Total Body Exams
It is highly recommended by Dr. Ariel Ostad that people have a thorough skin exam each year to detect and prevent the three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. You can also look at your skin spots routinely and be very attentive to any changes or growth.
Fortunately, a melanoma can be effectively treated if detected early. Some melanomas can occur in areas of your skin that are covered by hair or clothing, and thus, are hard to self-examine. Most melanomas can be detected in their very early stages as long as you can identify them correclty.
The ABCD’s of Moles & Melanoma
Most people have some skin marks, such as freckles, moles, birthmarks. Some of these marks may be the signs of skin cancer. Warning signs of melanoma include:
1. Asymmetry: Melanomas are usually characterized by an irregular and asymmetrical shape. This means that one half of the spot does not match the other half.
2. Border: The edges of the old mole may turn scalloped or rough. New skin spots with undefined borders may also appear.
3. Color: Existing or new fast growing moles with uneven coloring (various shades of brown or black, colorless areas) are the first signs of skin cancer. These spots may later become red, blue or white.
4. Diameter:Early melanoma spots usually are greater than 6mm in diameter.
If any of your moles displays similar signs, you should be examined immediately by a Board Certified Dermatologist.
How Does a Mole Change?
Dr. Ostad notes that you should also watch for possible changes in moles:
1. You may notice that new spots or existing skin moles may start to grow fast.
2. Melanomas come in a wide variety of colors. An early sign of skin cancer is the color distribution; color spreads from the borders of the mole into the surrounding skin area.
3. Moles that are usually flat begin to grow vertically.
4. Inflammation may occur on the surrounding skin area of a new, pigmented skin formation.
5. Melanoma formation is characterized by the change in the surface of a mole including an erosion, oozing, scaliness, and even bleeding.
6. The most common sign of skin cancer is an itching sensation in the infected areas. Skin cancers are usually painless, but some people with melanomas may rarely experience little pain and tenderness.
Types of Skin Cancer