Signs of Melanoma: What Caregivers Should Know

signs of melanomaMelanoma is a type of skin cancer. It starts in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin. According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors agree that the leading cause of melanoma is exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun (and tanning lamps). So the beginning of the summer is a good time fore caregivers to review the 5 signs of melanoma.

Even though melanoma is a deadly serious condition, it’s also very treatable when the patient or a caregiver catches it early enough. Fortunately, detecting it isn’t difficult if you’re familiar with what’s known as the ABCs of melanoma.

A = Asymmetry

Symmetry is the first of the 5 signs of melanoma. If you take a straight edge like a ruler and lay it across a normal, run-of-the-mill mole, the halves on either side of the edge will be identical. When it comes to melanoma, though, the two sides will look different.

B = Borders

When moles are benign, the outer borders are smooth and sharp. Malignant moles, however, are “irregular, scalloped or poorly defined.”

C = Color

Moles that have different shades in them are a red flag. What does “different shades” mean? It means that the mole either has a kind of ombre effect – darker in some areas and lighter in others – or that you can literally see different colors in the mole.

D = Diameter

Harmless moles tend to be small and, at any rate, their size generally doesn’t change. Melanomas, though, usually have a diameter of more than 6 millimeters. If you notice a new large mole, or if a mole your loved one has had for years is suddenly larger than you remember it, notify the medical team at their residence right away.

E = Evolving

Melanomas don’t have to be new moles, which brings us to the last of the 5 signs of melanoma: evolving. If moles your loved one has had for a long time begin to change – in any way – take action and have it checked out.

Remember, when melanoma is caught and treated early, the chances of survival are high. If you see that your loved one has of the signs of melanoma, don’t hesitate to let the staff at their place of residence know. Your loved one will be glad you did.