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Could it be Melanoma?

Could it be Melanoma?

How to recognize this skin cancer

Many of us may not be too keen on taking an up-close-and-personal look at our own bodies, but there's a very good reason to do just that: It's one of the best ways to discover melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Though less common than other skin cancers, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body if not caught early. It can even be fatal if diagnosed at a late stage. But if found before it has had a chance to grow, melanoma is very treatable.

How to spot melanoma

Melanoma can look different on different people. Oftentimes it's mistaken for a mole, freckle or age spot, so knowing the difference is important. To help recognize this type of skin cancer, doctors have come up with some simple guidelines called the ABCDEs of melanoma. So if you find a spot on your skin and wonder if it could be melanoma, ask yourself these questions:

Asymmetry: Does one half of the spot look different than the other?

Border: Does it have an irregular or undefined border?

Color: Does it have different shades of tan, brown or black, or parts that are white, red or blue?

Diameter: How big is it? Melanomas are usually bigger than a pencil eraser, but they can be smaller.

Evolving: Has the spot changed shape, size or color?

Get to know your skin

Here are six simple steps to check your body for melanoma:

  1. In a full-length mirror, look over the front and back of your body, raising your arms to check your sides.
  2. Closely examine your forearms, underarms and palms.
  3. Check in between your toes and the soles of your feet.
  4. Use a hand-held mirror to help you see the back of your neck and scalp.
  5. Part your hair to get a closer look at the skin on your head.
  6. Lastly, use the hand-held mirror to check your back and buttocks.

And remember, while self-examination can help detect melanoma, it's important to see your health care provider if you have any spots that you think might be melanoma. Only your provider can diagnose this type, or any type, of skin cancer. So don't wait. If you find something, make an appointment with your provider. The earlier melanoma is found and treated, the better.

Lake Charles Memorial Cancer Center Earned National Accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.CoC seal The Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) grants accreditation to the cancer programs. To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet or exceed 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care.

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; American Cancer Society