The Abcdes Of Melanoma
The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves dont match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While its ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, its a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.
If you notice these warning signs, or anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin see a dermatologist promptly.
A is for Asymmetry
D is for Diameter or Dark
E is for Evolving
E is for Evolving
What Do The Early Signs Of Melanoma Look Like
Melanoma in its early stages may presents as:
- A large brownish spot with darker speckles
- A mole that changes in color, size or texture or bleeds
- Large brownish patch or spot
- A small lesion with an irregular border with areas that appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black
- Pain, itching or burning of the mole
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body. It may arise from an existing mole that becomes cancerous or from normal skin. Melanoma tends to occur on the face or the trunk in men. In women, it tends to occur on the legs. Melanoma can also occur in areas not exposed to the sun. Melanoma can affect all skin tones but more common in lighter skin tones.
What Is Scalp Melanoma
Melanoma is a serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer. It is more likely to spread locally as well as metastasize , and it accounts for more skin cancer-related deaths than basal and squamous cell carcinomas combined. Melanoma takes its name from melanocytes, the skins pigment-producing cells, where this condition originates. All types of melanoma are more likely to spread to lymph nodes and other tissues, but on the scalp, there are numerous blood vessels and other tissues that can quickly be impacted by melanoma cells.
According to Dr. Walker, The good news is that scalp melanoma is one of the rarest forms of this cancer, accounting for less than 5% of melanoma cases. The bad news is that scalp melanoma tends to be a more severe prognosis than other forms of melanoma. However, research indicates that this is largely because of how late in development its typically diagnosed. Simply put, people are more likely to overlook this condition until its very advanced, making it more difficult to treat.
The Five Stages Of Skin Cancer
Cancer in the skin thats at high risk for spreading shares features with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Some of these features are:
- Not less than 2 mm in thickness
- Has spread into the inner layers of the skin
- Has invaded skin nerves
In the earliest stage, cancer is only present in the upper layer of the skin. You may notice the appearance of blood vessels or a dent in the center of the skin growth. There are no traces of malignant cells beyond this layer.
At stage 1, cancer has not spread to muscles, bone, and other organs. It measures roughly 4/5 of an inch. Theres a possibility that it may have spread into the inner layer of the skin.
In this stage, cancer has become larger than 4/5 of an inch. Cancer still has not spread to muscles, bone, and other organs.
At stage 3, the cancer is still larger than 4/5 of an inch. Facial bones or a nearby lymph node may have been affected, but other organs remain safe. It may also spread to areas below the skin, such as into muscle, bone, and cartilage but not far from the original site.
Cancer can now be of any size and has likely spread into lymph nodes, bones, cartilage, muscle, or other organs. Distant organs such as the brain or lungs may also be affected. In rare cases, this stage might cause death when allowed to grow and become more invasive.
Melanoma Pictures: What To Look For
Malignant melanoma may differ from these melanoma images. Determining if a mole is cancerous is not easy.
Medically reviewed by Professor Chris Bunker *
The most important sign of potential melanoma is a change in the skins appearance, such as a change in an existing mole, or, more importantly, the appearance of a new spot. Normal moles dont typically turn into melanoma with 70% of melanomas arising in normal skin, not moles.
If you have a particular mole or mark on your skin that you are worried about, please seek your doctors opinion as soon as possible as melanoma of the skin can differ in appearance from the melanoma pictures presented here. Each melanoma is unique in appearance.
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How To Check Yourself For Skin Cancer
The SCF recommends that people conduct skin self-exams at least once a month or more if you have risk factors such as an inherited gene that predisposes toward skin cancer, or if you have spent a lot of time in the sun.
This check, which should be done in a well-lit room with a floor-length mirror and a hand mirror, should not take long once you get the hang of it.
Youll need to examine every inch of your skin, from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet and nails. A self-exam body map can help keep track of whats normal for you and whats not.
The more often you do these self-exams, the more familiar you will be with every freckle, mole, sore, lump, and blemish on your body and the better you will be at recognizing potential trouble in the form of new markings or changes in the size, shape, or color of existing spots.
Overall, heres the bottom line on what you should be looking for, according to the American Academy of Dermatology : a mole or skin lesion that changes in size, shape, or color, as well as spots that itch or bleed. Also watch for a new growth or a sore that doesnt heal.
Knowing your body and all of its unique spots is the first step in knowing what to look for when it comes to early signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
When Is A Mole A Problem
If a new or existing mole begins to change shape, color, size, or becomes flaky, crusty, or begins to bleed, it’s time to make an appointment with your dermatologist to get it checked out. A mole can turn into melanoma on rare occasions. In early melanoma, the shape of a mole becomes asymmetrical and uneven.
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Nodular basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that is most often found on the head. This type of cancer starts in basal cells, which are tasked with making new skin cells to push the old ones toward the surface of the skin. Nodular basal cell carcinoma is responsible for 60%-80% of all basal cell carcinomas. In the United States, its estimated that 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed every year, with 2.5 to 3.4 million of those cases being nodular basal cell carcinoma.
This type of cancer appears as a pearl-like papule that is round and surrounded by threadlike red lines on the skin made up of tiny blood vessels. The risk of developing nodular basal cell carcinoma can be increased by spending a lot of time out in the sun, living in high-altitude and sunny locations, and radiation therapy.
Other risk factors include:
- Prolonged exposure to arsenic
- Certain rare genetic disorders such as basal cell nevus syndrome
Although this type of cancer is common, it is highly treatable, and the five-year relative survival rate is 100%.
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What Does Melanoma Look Like
Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in melanocytes . Below are photos of melanoma that formed on the skin. Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other areas of the body with pigmented tissues.
Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole. People should tell their doctor if they notice any changes on the skin. The only way to diagnose melanoma is to remove tissue and check it for cancer cells.
Thinking of “ABCDE” can help you remember what to look for:
- Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other half.
- Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
- Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
- Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea .
- Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.
Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.
What Is Oral Malignant Melanoma
Abstract. Malignant melanoma is an aggressive neoplasm affecting the oral cavity. It has the most biologically unpredictable behavior. The tumors can be locally invasive or metastasize to other parts of the body. Pre-existing pigmentations can evolve into malignant melanomas in about 30% of the cases.
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Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why
Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesn’t explain skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment, and even heredity may play a role. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have:
- Fair skin or light-colored eyes
- An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
- Lived at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine
- Received radiation treatments
Quick Answer: What Does Oral Melanoma Look Like
This melanoma appears in the oral cavity as a white, mucosa-colored, or red mass.
Because oral malignant melanomas are often clinically silent, they can be confused with a number of asymptomatic, benign, pigmented lesions.
Oral melanomas are largely macular, but nodular and even pedunculated lesions occur.
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Prevention And Early Detection
The exact cause of subungual melanoma is unknown, meaning that patients cannot take specific steps to prevent this condition. However, because it may be associated with trauma to the hands and feet, you may want to keep yours hands and feet protected.2 For example, you can protect your hands and feet by wearing gloves during heavy labor, or wearing protective gear and sturdy shoes during sports.
Early detection is crucial to the treatment of subungual melanoma, so be sure to tell your doctor about any changes to your nails.1 You can regularly check your nails, fingers, and toes for any bruising, streaking, or changes.3
How Is Nodular Melanoma Treated
Treatment of nodular melanoma typically involves surgically removing the melanoma and some of the healthy skin surrounding the growth. A doctor may also recommend a lymph node biopsy so they can see if any cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes.
Melanoma that has spread to lymph nodes or internal organs requires additional treatment to destroy the cancer cells. This may include:
- Immunotherapy.Immunotherapy uses drugs to help your immune system more effectively recognize and fight off cancer cells. Checkpoint inhibitors are the most commonly used immunotherapy drugs for melanoma. These drugs work by unleashing T cells, which are immune cells that target and kill tumors.
- Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy involves the use of drugs that can target and destroy cells that have specific DNA mutations. This can cause cancerous tumors to shrink or to stop growing. Targeted therapy is often used along with other treatment, such as immunotherapy.
- Radiationtherapy.Radiation therapy uses concentrated radiation beams to kill cancer cells in specific parts of your body. It is often used after surgery to ensure that all the cancer cells have been destroyed, and to decrease the risk of melanoma returning.
- Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy isnt used as often as it once was, but it may still be the best treatment for some cases.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer Of The Head And Neck
Skin cancers usually present as an abnormal growth on the skin. The growth may have the appearance of a wart, crusty spot, ulcer, mole or sore. It may or may not bleed and can be painful. If you have a preexisting mole, any change in the characteristics of this spot such as a raised or an irregular border, irregular shape, change in color, increase in size, itching or bleeding are warning signs of melanoma. Sometimes the first sign of melanoma or squamous cell cancer is an enlarged lymph node.
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What Causes Nodular Melanoma
Nodular melanoma happens when melanocyte cells in your skin mutate and become cancerous. Melanocytes are the cells in your skin that make melanin. This is the pigment that gives your skin its color.
Sometimes, these cells can mutate after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The sun is by far the most significant source of UV radiation, but it can also come from other sources, such as lasers and tanning beds.
If you get too much exposure to UV radiation, it can damage the DNA of your skin cells. This can lead to mutations in the DNA, causing the cells to grow out of control.
These mutations can lead to all types of skin cancer, including nodular melanoma. More research needs to be done to determine what causes specific types of skin cancer to form.
Exposure to UV light can cause mutations in skin cells and lead to multiple types of skin cancer. Scientists dont know exactly why DNA mutations to the melanocyte cells sometimes cause nodular melanoma and not other melanomas.
However, there are some risk factors that may increase the risk of nodular melanoma:
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What Is The Treatment For Skin Cancer
Treatment for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma is straightforward. Usually, surgical removal of the lesion is adequate. Malignant melanoma, however, may require several treatment methods, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy or both. Because of the complexity of treatment decisions, people with malignant melanoma may benefit from the combined expertise of the dermatologist, a cancer surgeon, and a medical oncologist.
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Less Common Skin Cancers
Uncommon types of skin cancer include Kaposi’s sarcoma, mainly seen in people with weakened immune systems sebaceous gland carcinoma, an aggressive cancer originating in the oil glands in the skin and Merkel cell carcinoma, which is usually found on sun-exposed areas on the head, neck, arms, and legs but often spreads to other parts of the body.
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What Is An Ugly Duckling Mole
Everyone has moles and lesions. Your harmless moles and lesions probably look alike.7 Melanomas stick out from the crowd. Therefore, dermatologists look for the so-called ugly ducklings. This is another way of deciding if a mole or lesion is suspicious, even if it does not meet the ABCDE criteria above.
What Did Your Melanoma Look Like
Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders. C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black.
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Everyone Needs To Check Their Feet For Signs Of Melanoma
People of all races and colors get melanoma on their feet. In fact, about the same number of African Americans and Caucasians develop melanoma on a foot.1 For people of African or Asian ethnicity, the feet and hands are the most common places for melanoma to appear.2
Everyone needs to check their feet for signs of melanoma
About the same number of African Americans and Caucasians develop melanoma on a foot.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Symptoms
If a spot on your skin looks suspicious to you, theres one cardinal rule: Get to a doctor to have it checked out. Thats because all three of the most common skin cancers including the most dangerous, melanoma are 99 percent curable if diagnosed and removed early, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation .
The SCF recommends scheduling an appointment once a year with a dermatologist for a full-body skin check to screen for skin cancer.
If youre in a higher risk group, such as you have a history of atypical moles, your dermatologist may suggest coming in more often.
In advance of your appointment, you should examine your own body in order to start a conversation with your doctor about any skin changes. Avoid nail polish and makeup and keep your hair down so that you dont inadvertently keep any suspect moles hidden.
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