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The first line of defense against skin cancer starts with you. You can catch skin cancer early by following dermatologists’ tips for checking your skin.
Click here to download a body mole map to document your self-examination and know what to look for when checking your spots. The Body Mole Map comes courtesy from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) SPOT Skin Cancer website.
When self-examining your skin, keep in mind the ABCDE's of melanoma.
A = Asymmetry
One half is unlike the other half.
B = Border
An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
C = Color
Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.
D = Diameter
Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
E = Evolving
A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Melanoma is the most aggressive and deadliest form of skin cancer. If not caught in the early stages, melanoma can be quite a virulent form of cancer that can spread through the body with an efficiency that few tumors possess. This form of cancer is so ruthless because melanoma is born with it metastatic engines fully engaged. This means that melanoma’s aggressive nature seeks to grow deep in the skin and spread to other locations in the body.
The good news is that if melanoma is found and treated in its early stages, it is close to 100% curable. However, once it has spread to other parts of the body, it becomes increasing difficult to treat and possibly requiring multiple surgeries and advanced treatments. The chances of survival dips to a dire 15%.
Melanoma occurs in the melanocytes, the cells that color the skin and make moles. Melanocytes are located in the lower part of the epidermis and just above the dermis. Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that protects the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Long exposure to UV rays damages and causes the melanocytes to mutate more frequently, potentially leading to the development of melanoma.
The Staggering Facts