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Aesthetics Practice Today

ABCDs of Melanoma Detection

Published December 20, 2012 10:57 AM by Mina Grasso

One of the more common requests patients come to our clinic for is treatment of brown spots. As the world of aesthetic laser practices grow, and more people are aware of laser treatments for skin rejuvenation, the demand for brown spot removal increases.

Unfortunately, in some aesthetic practices, consultants without dermatological training are the ones who are recommending various treatment modalities to patients presenting with brown spots. 

Anyone involved in a skin examination should be familiar with the ABCDs of melanoma detection and know when to refer to a dermatologist.

Asymmetry - Does one half of a mole look different from the other?

Border Irregularity - Is the edge (border) of the mole ragged, notched or blurred?

Color - Does the mole have a variety of hues and colors within the same lesion? 

Diameter - What is the size of the mole? While melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser) in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller. 

Patients with increased risk of melanoma include:

  1. Family history of melanoma
  2. Atypical moles greater than 6mm
  3. Fair skin types that usually burn
  4. Have more than 50 moles
  5. Diagnosed with actinic keratosis
  6. Long history of sun exposure
  7. Weakened immune systems caused by disease or immunosuppressive medications

Although I have had some experience with medical dermatology and performed skin biopsies, if a patient presents with a brown spot that appears suspicious and different than other surrounding spots or if he/she reports changes, pruritis or bleeding, even if it is less than 6mm in diameter, I prefer to refer any suspicious lesion to a dermatologist. 

Know your ABCDs of melanoma detection and educate patients on sun protection for prevention of premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

 

 

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    Occupation: Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner
    Setting: Miami & Upland, Calif.
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