The ABCDE’s of Melanoma

Melanoma Awareness month - Dr Ron Shelton NYC

There are many forms of skin cancers and the most dangerous one among them is Melanoma. Melanoma is almost always triggered by skin cells known as melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells in the skin that contain the pigment known as melanin. Melanin is responsible for giving the skin its color as well as protecting the skin and its deeper layers from sun exposure, especially, from the dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

When the skin is exposed to excessive amounts of sun’s radiation, the melanocytes in the skin start to produce excessive amounts of melanin and as a result the skin becomes tanned. When the skin is exposed to other forms of UV rays such as from tanning booths, this same process takes place. When the skin is exposed to too much of this dangerous radiation, the melanocytes can start to grow in an abnormal fashion and become cancerous. This condition is then known as Melanoma.

The very early signs of melanoma come in the form of changes in the normal properties of a mole. These changes can be with respect to size, shape and/or color. However, sometimes melanomas can appear on the skin where no mole was present. One of the best ways to determine the danger of a mole is to follow the ABCDE rule.

  • ASSYMETRY       :  A mole needs to be regarded as dangerous if it is not symmetrical in shape.
  • BORDER               : If the edges of a mole are irregular and/or ragged, then it needs to be deemed dangerous.
  • COLOR                 :  irregular color and unbalanced shades are also warning signs of a cancerous mole.
  • DIAMETER          :  For any increase in size and diameter of a mole, medical advice needs to be sought.
  • EVOLVING          : A mole which has been subjected to significant overall changes, such as itching, growing, bleeding or hurting, in the course of weeks or months needs to be checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible.
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