Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to Diagnose Skin Melanoma


Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that typically begins as an abnormal mole or skin lesion. Melanoma can spread throughout the entire body when cancer cells penetrate the lymph node system. Thousands of people die annually from this disease. However, with early detection, 85 percent of individuals diagnosed with a melanoma can live long and healthy lives. Here are a few tips on how you can detect melanoma early.


Difficulty: Moderate



Step One

Check any moles or lesions for sudden changes in size, color or shape and notice if your mole or lesion becomes painful or feels different. Pay attention to any growths that appear suddenly and are black or strange looking.

Step Two

A popular method for remembering the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic "ABCDE":

"A"symmetrical skin lesion.
"B"order of the lesion is irregular.
"C"olor: melanoma usually have multiple colors.
"D"iameter: moles greater than 5 mm are more likely to be melanoma than smaller moles.
"E"levation: The mole is raised or elevated above the skin.

Step Three

See your doctor for an evaluation of any suspicious spots on your skin.

Step Four

Biopsy a suspicious mole or lesion. Your doctor will perform a biopsy and send sample tissue to the lab for diagnosis if he believes the growth may be serious.

Step Five

Get the results from your doctor after a pathologist examines the biopsied tissue sample.

Step Six

Follow the treatment recommendations of your doctor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Skin melanoma is known as cutaneous melanoma. You can also get melanoma in the eye which is called ocular or intraocular melanoma.
  • In women, melanoma is often found on the arms, upper back and lower legs. In men, it typically occurs on the trunk and on the head.
  • Don't wait to have a suspicious skin spot checked out by your doctor. The earlier the diagnosis, the less painful it will be to treat and the more chance you have for a full recovery.
  • Always use sunscreen when going out in the sun.

No comments: