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Melanoma: Signs and Symptoms

Anyone can get melanoma. It’s important to take time to look at the moles on your skin because this is a good way to find melanoma early. When checking your skin, you should look for the ABCDEs of melanoma.


A = AsymmetryABCDEs of Melanoma

One half is unlike the other half.


B = BorderABCDEs of Melanoma

An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.


C = ColorABCDEs of Melanoma

Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.


D = DiameterABCDEs of Melanoma

Melanomas usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.


E = EvolvingABCDEs of Melanoma

A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.


Signs of Melanoma

If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs, immediately make an appointment to see a dermatologist. The most common early signs (what you see) of melanoma are:

  • Growing mole on your skin.
  • Unusual looking mole on your skin or a mole that does not look like any other mole on your skin (the ugly duckling).
  • Non-uniform mole (has an odd shape, uneven or uncertain border, different colors).

Symptoms of Melanoma

In the early stages, melanoma may not cause any symptoms (what you feel). But sometimes melanoma will:

  • Itch
  • Bleed
  • Feel painful

Many melanomas have these signs and symptoms, but not all. There are actually different types of melanoma. One type can first appear as a brown or black streak underneath a fingernail or toenail. Melanoma also can look like a bruise that just won’t heal.

Basal Cell Cancer: Signs and Symptoms

Frequently, two or more of these features are present in one tumor. In addition, BCC sometimes resembles noncancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Only a trained physician, such as a specialist in diseases of the skin, can decide for sure. If you observe any of the warning signs or some other worrisome change in your skin, consult your physician immediately.


1. Scar-like areaThe 5 Warning Signs of Basal Cell Cancer

A scar-like area that is white, yellow or waxy, and often has poorly defined borders; the skin itself appears shiny and taut. This warning sign may indicate the presence of an invasive BCC that is larger than it appears to be on the surface.


2. Open soreThe 5 Warning Signs of Basal Cell Cancer

An open sore that bleeds, oozes, or crusts and remains open for a few weeks, only to heal up and then bleed again. A persistent, non–healing sore is a very common sign of an early BCC.


3. Irritated areaThe 5 Warning Signs of Basal Cell Cancer

A reddish patch or irritated area, frequently occurring on the face, chest, shoulders, arms, or legs. Sometimes the patch crusts, and it may also itch. At other times, it persists with no noticeable discomfort.


4. Shiny bumpThe 5 Warning Signs of Basal Cell Cancer

A shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent and is often pink, red, or white. The bump can also be tan, black, or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and can be confused with a mole.


5. Pink growthThe 5 Warning Signs of Basal Cell Cancer

A pink growth with a slightly elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. As the growth slowly enlarges, tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface.


Skin Cancer: Tips for Preventing and Finding

These tips can help you prevent skin cancer — or find skin cancer early when treatment can cure the skin cancer.


Preventing skin cancer

  • Never use a tanning bed or sun lamp. These can cause skin cancer. Research shows that using a tanning bed increases your risk of getting melanoma by 75 percent.
  • Wear sunscreen and lip balm every day. The sun is a known cause of skin cancer. Every day, before you go outside, apply sunscreen to all skin that will be bare (face, ears, hands, neck, etc.). Apply lip balm to your lips. Be sure to use sunscreen that:
    - Protects against UVA and UVB rays. The label must say broad-spectrum or UVA/UVB protection. If it does not say either, find another product.
    - Has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Wear clothes that protect you from UV rays. A jean jacket offers great UV protection. A white t-shirt does not. Any clothing that you can hold up to bright light and see through does not offer the protection you need. To boost the UV protection that your clothes offer, you may want to use a UV protectant. You wash this protectant into your clothes. To use, you simply add it to the wash cycle.
  • Wear sunglasses that offer UV protection every day. Melanoma can develop in the eyes.
  • Try not to spend time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun is strongest.

Finding skin cancer

  • Perform skin self-exams. This can help you find skin cancer early when it can be cured. These exams are especially important if you have been treated for skin cancer. If you see something that looks like skin cancer, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. The earlier skin cancer is caught and treated, the more likely it can be cured.
  • Get screened for skin cancer. How often you need to get screened varies from person to person
  • If you have been treated for skin cancer, keep all follow-up appointments with your doctors. The earlier skin cancer is caught and treated, the greater the chance of a cure.

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