Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that needs to be taken seriously and addressed as early as possible. Melanomas develop from specialized skin cells called melanocytes with produce melanin, the pigment that causes the skin to darken, or tan, in the sun. When melanomas remain in the epidermis – the outer layer of skin – they produce non-cancerous growths called freckles and moles. However, when melanocytes divide and reach deeper into the skin and form a mass of cells, they become cancerous. Most melanomas can be cured if detected and treated early – so it is important to know what to look for.
The first thing any dermatologist will tell you about your skin is that any change in an existing mole or freckle, or the appearance of a new mole or freckle in your adult years needs to be checked out promptly.
At Medical Dermatology Specialists in Atlanta, Dr. Jamie Weisman takes any concerns that her patients have regarding moles and freckles very seriously. You are the most familiar person with your body, so you are the one who will know best if there are changes or new growths that pop up. For any suspicious freckles or moles, Dr. Weisman will examine the suspicious growth closely and look for any of the characteristic signs that may indicate melanoma. The rest of the body will also be examined for any other suspicious spots.
The same assessment that a dermatologist does in the office can easily be done at home as a self-test to guide you on whether or not your mole or freckle is suspicious.
ABCDE of Melanoma:
- A for Asymmetry – the mole is not symmetrical
- B for Border – the border of a freckle/mole is suspicious
- C for Color – there is a variation in color within the spot or compared to other moles/freckles
- D for Diameter – the mole is larger than 6mm in diameter
- E for Elevation or Evolving – there is change in the height of the spot or it is changing in shape or size
If you have any freckles or moles that you feel meet any of these factors, it is important that you make an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as possible. It is often necessary that a mole or freckle that has any of the above characteristics be surgically removed so that it can be sent to a laboratory for examination. If it is confirmed that the spot is a melanoma, a deeper area of skin may need to be removed in order to ensure that all cancerous cells are extracted. Most people who are diagnosed with a melanoma can be successfully treated with surgical removal alone.
At Medical Dermatology Specialists, Dr. Jamie Weisman is a nationally recognized dermatologist who is dedicated to providing a new level of care to patients with skin cancer. If you need a quality skin cancer screening, contact our practice today to schedule an appointment.