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Dermatology Education & Practice from NADNP

Warning Signs of Melanoma

Published October 3, 2016 8:43 AM by Guest Blogger
By Darrel Arthurs, ARNP, DCNP

Melanoma is the most lethal of all the skin cancers. It is estimated that melanoma kills 10,130 people annually in the United States. Many of these deaths could be easily prevented with proper screening and catching the cancers in their infancy. These skin cancers are highly survivable if found earlybefore they are able to metastasize and affect internal organs. Being aware of the signs of melanoma is extremely important. Educating patients and their families about the warning signs of melanoma can extend life or possibly even prevent early death.

The ABCD&Es of melanoma are an effective method to educate our patients about the warning signs of melanoma.

AAsymmetry. If a mole has one side that is larger than the other it is asymmetrical. An easy way to assess this is to draw an imaginary line through the center of the mole and compare the two sides. If one is larger than the other the mole is asymmetrical.

Asymmetry

BBorder. Most benign moles have smooth borders that are even. Melanomas tend to have borders that are not smooth but instead uneven, possibly with scallops or notches.

Border

CColor. Benign moles are usually all one color often a shade of brown. When there are two or more colors present, the mole is a warning sign of melanoma. Secondary colors are frequently black, tan, red, white, or blue, as well as some deeper shades of brown.

Color

DDiameter. Normally benign moles will be smaller than 6 mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser), but melanomas frequently grow larger than this. While some moles that are benign can be this size or larger, most are not. The size of the lesion can be another warning sign.

Diameter

EEvolving. A typical benign mole will look the same over time with only minor changes occurring. Changes such as size, shape, color, elevation, or any other changing trait can be a warning sign of melanoma. In addition, symptoms such as burning, bleeding, itching, or crusting can indicate the need for further evaluation or possibly even biopsy.

 

Reference

Skin Cancer Foundation (2016). Melanoma. Retrieved September 28, 2016: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma

Darrel Arthurs's passion for dermatology developed while he was serving in active duty in the U.S. Navy. Since then he has accumulated over 11 years' experience in medical and surgical dermatology. Currently he works independently in a small city in northeastern Oklahoma. Arthurs is on the NADNP Board of Directors.

1 comments

HI we have a great education resource for patients and educators that's the best selling product developed in Australia and now licensed by the Skin Cancer Foundation in the US. You can request a free sample and see the product in action at www.iamskincancer.com or www.skincancer.org/skintools

Cheers,

Sam

samuel holt October 5, 2016 8:24 PM

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