Malignant Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer. However, when it is found early, treatment can be very successful. Monthly self-examination is the best way to become familiar with the moles, freckles, and spots on your skin. A change in a mole or spot may be the first sign of skin cancer.

Malignant melanomas do not usually look like normal moles. A handy way to remember the features of melanoma is to think of A-B-C-D.

A – Asymmetry. One side of the mole doesn’t match the other side. Normal moles are round or oval.

B – Border irregularity. The edges of the mole are uneven, scalloped, or notched. The edge can look blurred. Normal moles have smooth, even borders.

C – Color. The mole may have different shades of brown or black, and possibly spots of red or blue. Normal moles are usually a single shade of brown.

D – Diameter. Any mole or growth larger than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser or 1/4″) is a matter of concern. Normal moles are usually smaller.

Keep in mind that change in a preexisting lestion is the most important finding. This means observable growth over a period of weeks to months. Bening lesions can grow slowly over years, but malignant lesions usually change over weeks to months. Change over a few days most often is associated with inflammation or infection.

If in doubt, please contact your dermatologist.