Melanoma is a serious and devastating type of skin cancer that can be treated if it is caught early enough. However, it is typically malignant and may spread throughout the body. The best way to fight back against this type of cancer is to protect against it from a young age by wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and staying out of harsh sunlight. However, if you have already exposed yourself to more sunlight than you should have or have tanned in years past, you can still protect your life by knowing, recognizing, and actively checking for melanoma lesions.
The first symptoms of melanoma typically show up as changes in a skin lesion. This lesion may look like a scar or a new age spot. It may look like a wound or rash that does not heal, redness around an old mole, or a mole that suddenly itches or bleeds. You may be more at risk if you have a family history of melanoma or have fair skin and red hair.
The best way to recognize melanoma is to use the ABCDE rule. This rule will help you recognize the difference between a normal mole or freckle and a cancerous lesion. A stands for asymmetry, B stands for an irregular border, C stands for patchy color, D stands for a diameter greater than 6 millimeters, and E stands for an evolving, changing mole. Your lesion may not fit each of these rules, but if anything seems off about the spot, you should have it checked out immediately.
While most melanoma lesions appear on the skin in these ways, some appear in places that you would not expect. For example, it could show up as streaks beneath your fingernails. This happens most often on those with darker skin tones. Melanoma can also occur on the eyes or on the mucous membranes of your nose or mouth. Our dermatologist will know just what to look for.
If you believe that you have a suspicious-looking mole or lesion on your skin, you should see a dermatologist with plenty of experience who will be able to provide you with a trustworthy diagnosis. Plus, you should consider having a full skin check annually. This will help you catch little problems before they become more concerning. Our dermatologist will be able to see all parts of your body, including areas on your back that are difficult if not impossible for you to see. He or she will also know exactly where to check to locate easy-to-miss spots.
Contact our office today to discuss concerns about melanoma or about any other spots or lesions on your skin. Our team at Lakeside Dermatology proudly serves Florida from offices in Sebring and Winter Haven.