Do you know your ABCDs for malignant melanomas?
The average person has about 25 moles and most of these are harmless. However, a change in a mole could be a sign for malignant change. The ABCD is a simple mnemonic for warning signs for malignant melanomas, the most aggressive skin cancer.
Look out for:
A (asymmetry): one part of the mole does not match the other parts.
B (border irregularity): normal moles are round or oval, melanomas have irregular, notched or blurred edges.
C (color):when its color is uneven and may consist of different shades of color (mostly brown or black, or even red, white or blue).
D (diameter): the maximal diameter of the mole is larger than 6mm.
Recent appearance of these changes should alert you to go to your doctor to have your moles checked. Even in the absence of these changes, skin cancer screening by way of inspection should be performed yearly by your family doctor. Some authorities in skin cancer suggest that even this is not good enough. They suggest that a consultation with a dermatologist, or a surgeon with an interest in skin cancers, should be scheduled once every three years. In individuals who have had skin cancers diagnosed and treated, this specialist consultation should be repeated yearly or when moles are noted to change. It goes without saying that this is no substitute for other preventive measures. It is always prudent to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. Always wear light-colored long-sleeves, smear on sun-protection and wear hats on bright sunny days.