Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that develops when specialized pigment-producing cells in the skin and eyes called melanocytes mutate and divide uncontrollably. While much less common compared to other types of skin cancers, melanoma is the most serious of all, as it has the potential to spread to other parts of the body—including vital organs—even far away from where it originated.
Factors that may increase your risk of developing the deadly skin condition include excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, family history, having fair skin, immunosuppression, among others.
Whether you’re on this page because you’re concerned that you may be at risk or you just want to be proactive about your skin health, read on to learn more about melanoma, particularly its specific signs and symptoms, which you need to watch out for.
The ABCDEs of Melanoma
Outlined below are the ABCDEs of melanoma, which stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. You need to see your dermatologist right away for a comprehensive evaluation if you have a mole or birthmark that appears suspicious based on these characteristics.
- Asymmetry– Having a mole whose sides differ or are asymmetrical may be a cause for concern.
- Border- Unlike benign moles, melanomas have irregular, notched, poorly defined, or scalloped edges.
- Color- Normal moles have a uniform color throughout. Potentially cancerous moles, on the other hand, often have varying colors from one area to the next (i.e., shades of brown, black, or tan; or areas of blue, red, or white).
- Diameter– Healthy moles are no bigger than a pencil-top eraser: about 6 millimeters. Any mole that is larger than this could signify malignancy.
- Evolving- A mole that is growing or changing in color or shape, burns, itches, crusts over, or bleeds warrants prompt assessment and intervention.
It’s worth noting that melanomas can develop in any area of your body— even in those not frequently exposed to sunlight (e.g., fingernail beds and soles of the feet). Thus, when you inspect your skin, use a mirror to check hidden areas, or have a loved one help you with your self-exam.
Skin Cancer Specialist in Georgia
At Georgia Skin Cancer & Aesthetic Dermatology, Dr. Ross Campbell, our board-certified dermatologist, and Mohs surgeon, has earned a reputation of excellence for delivering exceptional treatment outcomes for all types of skin cancers—including melanomas.
As proponents of preventive skin care, we gladly provide useful information and encourage people to visit us for yearly skin checks to detect potential signs of cancer and mitigate them while they’re still treatable.
To see Dr. Ross Campbell for a mole screening, call us at (706) 543-5858, or request an appointment right here on our website. We have several offices across Georgia: in Athens, Commerce, Elberton, Gainesville, Lake Oconee, and Winder. We look forward to serving you!