Everyone should be familiar with the 'ABCD's of skin cancer recognition:
ASYMMETRY: an irregular or uneven shape
BORDER IRREGULARITY: an uneven, jagged, or spiky outline
COLOR CHANGE OR VARIEGATION: a sudden darkening, or multicolored appearance
DIAMETER GREATER THAN 6MM.
Now, researchers are proposing that an E should be added to the equation -- for "EVOLVING." After looking at dozens of past studies that included 30 subjects or more, authors of a new report found that 88 percent of patients noted an evolution of their melanoma before it was removed. Enlargement was reported most often, but changes in shape, symptoms (itching, tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), and shades of color were also noted. That's why they've chosen the word EVOLVING, rather than enlargement as the basis for the 'E.'
In short, if a skin growth looks ugly and appears to be enlarging, it should be checked by an experienced medical professional.
The risk of melanoma is increased with occasional, intense exposure, such as blistering sunburns, especially in childhood, rather than just long-term sun exposure. Common locations for melanoma include the back and scalp in men and legs in women, areas not generally exposed to the sun long-term, and it is more common in younger individuals. Melanoma may occur by itself, or arise from a pre-melanoma mole or skin growth. Unlike other cancers, melanoma may remain inactive for years, and may even regress temporarily, and then suddenly metastasize to lymph nodes or vital organs.
Melanoma is a malignant tumor that originates in melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the melanin or pigment that colors our skin, hair, and eyes. Most often, it shows up first in new or pre-existing moles, which are a concentration of melanocytes. Although sometimes, melanomas stop producing pigment altogether and become pink, purple, or skin-colored.
There are four types of melanoma: superficial spreading, lentigo maligna, acral lentiginous, and nodular. Each type has its own unique markers. For example, acral lentiginous is most common in Asians and African-Americans and is usually found under the nails or on the soles of the feet or the palm of the hand.