May is not just the beginning of beach season here in Charleston, SC, it is also Melanoma Awareness Month. With warmer weather promising more outdoor fun, it’s important to be aware of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Thankfully, it is highly preventable with a few lifestyle changes.
Melanoma is a skin cancer that develops in the skin’s pigment cells. Although melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer, it can be potentially lethal because of its ability to spread to other areas of the body. Often melanoma appears on the skin as a blemish, spot or mole. Not all blemishes, spot and moles on the skin are melanoma, but the ABCDE’s of melanoma can help determine if you need to get checked by a dermatologist:
- Asymmetry: if a spot or mole on the skin seems bigger on one side than the other.
- Borders: if a spot or mole has an irregular border or shape from other spots or moles on your skin.
- Color: if a spot or mole is mutli-colored or a different color from other spots or moles on your skin.
- Diameter: if a spot or mole is bigger than a pencil eraser.
- Evolution: if there is a change in the size, shape, or symptoms of a spot or mole.
More than half of melanoma cases develop from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. But don’t worry; if staying indoors is not in your summer plans, there are several things you can do to reduce your chance of potentially harmful sun exposure – we recently covered them and the traits that make a person more at risk for developing skin cancer in our blog: Skin Cancer Screenings: A Summer Must.
Although monthly self-exams using the ABCDE’s of melanoma are an important way to determine changes in skin appearance, the only person melanoma can be diagnosed by is your dermatologist. In addition to monthly self-exams, annual skin cancer screenings performed by a dermatologist are an important step in staying healthy. A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin performed before any symptoms are present. If something appears abnormal during the screening, a biopsy will be taken. The biopsy will determine if the abnormality is cancerous or not.
To schedule a skin cancer screening appointment with Derm Clinics Charleston, contact us at (843) 795-7546.