Knowing the ABCDEs of melanoma and how to assess your skin each month is essential to catching melanoma early.
The More You Mela-KNOW-Ma
ABCDEs of Melanoma Knowing what to look for and performing regular self-skin exams may help you become more aware of a mole that changes, a sore that just won’t heal or a new lump. If you find a spot that has one or more of the ABCDEs, make an appointment with a doctor to have it evaluated, preferably a board-certified medical dermatologist.
A B C D E
ASYMMETRY: Visually divide the mole in half. An asymmetric mole will have one half that does not match the other half.
BORDER: Inspect the edges of the mole. A mole with an irregular or jagged border is worrisome.
COLOR: Examine the color of the mole. The mole should be a uniformed color of brown or black. A problematic mole’s color will not be consistent, and may have areas of pink, red, white or blue. DIAMETER: Measure the size of the mole. A mole should not be larger than 6 millimeters across (bigger than a pencil eraser). EVOLUTION: Evaluate your moles every month and also check for new ones. Keep track of any changes that occur over time, even if they seem minor.
It is important to note that not all melanomas fall within these parameters.
Also be on the lookout for: • A mole that becomes itchy, painful, tender or starts to bleed • A dark area under or next to a fingernail or toenail • Redness or swelling around a mole • A “funny looking” or “ugly duckling” spot
SELF SCREENING GUIDE
YOU are the most likely person to spot your melanoma. Melanoma can occur on any area of the skin, but for men, the chest or back is the most likely area; for women, it is often the legs.
STEP 1 Look at your face, including your nose, lips, mouth and behind your ears.
STEP 2 Check your scalp, using a comb to part your hair. If you don’t have much hair, check your entire scalp very thoroughly.
STEP 6 Use a hand mirror to check the back of your neck and your entire back.
STEP 5 Focus on your neck, chest and upper body. Check between and under your breasts and any skin folds.
Examining your skin once a month is easier than ever: just ask your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to “open skin check” for step-by-step instructions. Prefer to do yours ‘old school’? Use this guide to ensure you check your entire body. Consider creating a monthly Melanoma Monday reminder on your phone or kitchen calendar. To perform your skin check, you’ll need to be in front of a large mirror and have a handheld mirror so you can see hard-to-see places. You will also need a comb.
STEP 3 Check the front and back of your hands, in between your fingers and your fingernails.
STEP 4 Bend your elbows to check your upper arms and armpits.
STEP 7 Continue using a hand mirror to check your buttock, genitals and the back of your legs. Finish by checking the soles of your feet, between your toes and your toenails.
FIND A MELANOMA MATE If it’s too difficult to check those hard-to-see places on your own, find a Melanoma Mate — your partner, a roommate or close friend — to help check those areas with you each month. Be sure to return the favor during their skin check.
During your first self skin exam, closely inspect any concerning areas and write down the features of any moles you want to keep track of on this chart using the ABCDEs. Each month after, double check those areas for changes and write down any new ones you find. Remember to take this chart with you to your yearly professional skin exam to discuss with your provider; make a sooner appointment if you see any changes.
Right shoulder blade
Varying browns & white
Visit melanoma.org for references and more information.Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4
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