- Appear as a dark flat or raised area on the skin
- The ABCD rule can help you remember the symptoms of melanoma
A-Asymmetry: the shape of one half does not match the other
B-Border: edges are ragged or blurred
C-Color: uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white, or blue
D-Diameter: significant change in size (> 6mm)
Malignant Melanoma thankfully is the least common skin cancer because it is the most problematic and frankly deadly variant [114,000 new cases with 68,000 being aggressive] leading to 8,600 deaths per year. These lesions generally begin life as a mole. However, the melanocytes , pigmented cells, grow out of control and can often metastasize, spread to other parts of the body. Treatment is much more extensive with much larger areas of skin needed to be removed, often requiring more extensive treatments such as skin grafts or flaps to close the wound, lymph node biopsies, and follow up evaluation with an oncologist.
The ABCDs are instructed regarding moles and melanoma evaluation:
A – Asymmetry – a mole should have a very similar and smooth look to itself with each half matching
B – Border – a mole should have a smooth border or edge to it, and not be irregular
C – Color – a mole should generally be pink or light tan to brown with one color throughout
D – Diameter – should be less than 1 cm
Think of a pencil eraser. Its round, with a smooth edge, one color throughout and reasonably small. Moles that lose these outward appearances may have issues internally that need to be evaluated.