Early Detection can be a Matter of Life and Death
Know your skin: It is important to note any changes to your skin. Use the following as a general guide when performing monthly self-skin exams.
A: Asymmetry. If you were to divide the mole in half vertically would it be the same on both sides? What if you divide it in half horizontally, or diagonally? You want your moles to be the same no matter which way you divide it in half.
B: Border. What does the border of your mole look like? Is it smooth? Is it irregular, blurred or poorly defined? The border of your moles should be smooth, well defined and even.
C: Color. Moles can come in a variety of different colors black, white, red, brown and even blue. What you’re looking for here is that your mole is the same color throughout. You want to make sure your mole does not have different shades of the same color or completely different colors from one area to the next.
D: Diameter. How big is your mole? Melanoma can be in any sized mole but most healthy moles do not exceed the size of a pencil eraser, about ¼ of an inch, 6 millimeters. If your mole if bigger it should be examined by a dermatologist.
E: Evolving. Has your mole been changing over time? The best tip here is to take a picture of it every month so you can compare each time you do a self-exam. You are looking for any difference here—color, shape or size.
If you find a mole that does not pass one or more of the ABCDEs of melanoma see a dermatologist. Also see a dermatologist if you have a mole that itches or bleeds or if you find a nodule under your skin. It is better to get a mole you are unsure about checked just to be safe.
Skin Cancer Can be Prevented.
Sun Safety Tips
- Generously apply sunscreen that protects you from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
- Use a sunscreen with a sun protective factor of 30 or higher.
- Wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves.
- Seek clothing with a built-in sun protective factor.
- Seek shade between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
- Be extra careful near water, sand, or snow as they reflect the sun’s rays.
- Get vitamin D safely through diet and vitamin supplements, not through sun exposure.
- Avoid tanning beds and their harmful ultraviolet rays.
- Wear sunglasses to protect yourself from ocular melanoma.
- Perform skin self exams regularly and take note of any changes in existing moles, new moles, changes in birthmarks or other differences in your skin.
- Visit a trained dermatologist annually for a complete, head-to-toe, skin exam.
- Support melanoma education and research.
Please keep in mind that the ABCDE rule is only a guideline. Melanoma also may appear as a nodule under the skin. Take note of any new marks or moles on the skin and any changes in existing marks or moles. See a dermatologist annually for a full-body skin examination.