Q:

It seems like younger and younger women are getting skin cancer these days. What are the signs that a mole may be (or may become) cancerous?

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A:

Answers (4)

EXPERT
Dr. Lawrence Osman, MD (Dermatologist) answered

Skin cancer is becoming more and more common; one out of five people will develop it during their lifetime. Specifically, melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and the leading cause of death due to skin disease. In 2009, the American Cancer Society estimated that 68,720 people in the United States got melanoma, and about 8,650 died from it. Skin cancer can be very serious business.

Early detection and treatment are the keys to success. Most skin cancers are easily treated and, if treated early, have a high cure rate. Since you see your skin more than anyone does, you play the most important role in early detection.

You should perform a full skin exam of yourself monthly. Pick an easy day to remember such as the first day of each month. Look for new or changing moles and pink sores or pimples that don't heal the way you would expect. With brown lesions such as moles, you should be evaluating the "ABCDE's": Asymmetry, Borders, Color, Diameter and Evolving. If a lesion is asymmetrical, has irregular borders, multiple colors, a diameter (width) larger than the head of a pencil eraser, or is evolving (growing/changing), you should see a dermatologist.

A dermatologist will visually inspect your moles for irregularity of color, size and shape and other factors that make a mole abnormal in appearance. If your doctor finds a potentially abnormal mole or other lesion, he or she may biopsy it by numbing the area and taking a small sample. If lab tests find the lesion to be abnormal, your dermatologist may need to do a second procedure to remove the entire lesion from your skin.

 

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EXPERT
Dr. Erica Zelfand (Naturopathic Doctor) answered
I usually refer patient to the ABCDE's (as explained by Dr. Osman above). Remember that you can get melanoma on skin that doesn't get much sunlight, so be sure to check around your fingers, on the palms of your hands, on the soles of your feet, and even around the vulva and anus!

Also be on the lookout for any lesions that have developed little red arteries in them.

Go see a doctor about any lesion on sun-exposed skin (face, neck, ears, hands) that is like a sore that never fully heals.
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Sal answered
You must be talking of black skin cancer (melanoma). Melanoma is a cancer of the skin. It forms from the abnormal changes of melanocytes. It is one of the most dangerous skin cancers and can be life-threatening. Possible indications of melanoma based on the acronym ABCDE include 1) Asymmetry: it often is unevenly shaped, 2) Borders: the edges are irregular, 3) Color: the melanoma has different colors (very dark and brighter areas in the same lesion), 4) Diameter: the melanoma is usually larger than 5mm in diameter, 5) Evolution: it may change in appearance, either in size or color. You can inform yourself more by following this link: https://sagliklokman.com/en/black-skin-cancer/disease
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