Although it is less common than other types of skin cancers, melanoma is much more dangerous if it is not found early. In fact, it is the leading cause of death from skin disease. Seniors need to be particularly aware of melanoma since the risk increases with age.
Checking for the possible symptoms of melanoma is easy if you follow the ABCDE system:
Asymmetry: One-half of the abnormal area is different from the other half.
Borders: The edges of the growth are irregular.
Color: Color changes from one area to another, with shades of tan, brown, or black, and sometimes white, red, or blue. A mixture of colors may appear within one sore.
Diameter: The spot is usually (but not always) larger than 6mm in diameter – about the size of a pencil eraser.
Evolution: The mole keeps changing appearance.
Risk factors for melanoma include fair skin, certain types of moles or multiple birthmarks, close relatives with a history of melanoma, the use of tanning devices, and a weakened immune system.
Self-exams are an important way to check for melanoma. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you have concerns or detect warning signs. Remember, the key to successfully treating melanoma is early detection.