Skin Cancer Q & A

I enjoy the sun.  How bad can the sun really be? While the sun is enjoyable and the heat is refreshing and many people seek the Florida sun, the harmful effects of UVB is evident in sunburns this causes damage and destruction of the DNA of the cells which can lead to Skin Cancers.  Examples of these include basal and squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma.

Melanomas are the most deadly of all skin cancers and have been estimated to affect 1:79 people in their lifetime.  Melanomas unfortunately can occur in both sun exposed and non-sun exposed areas.  They are most commonly found in the back of the legs of woman and the backs of men.  They can occur in any race, although they are most commonly found in the Caucasians.  Melanomas are seen more frequently after the age of 40, however they do also occur in young adults and rarely in children.

How do I diagnose a melanoma? A typical melanoma is diagnosed by dermatologic examination.  The findings that suggest a melanoma are the A, B, C, D, Es.  A=asymmetry.  Typically, when one side of the mole does not look like the other side and is not perfectly round.  B=border irregularity.  The edges are irregular, notched, or geographical in shape.  This may suggest a melanoma.  C=color irregularity.

Melanomas are typically dark black or can present with variations in color including red, blue, gray, and/or both.  On rare occasions, there are amelanotic melanomas, which do not have color and are more reddish or skin colored in appearance.  D=diameter.  Usually melanomas are > 6 mm or the size of a pencil eraser.  E=elevation or evolving.  A mole that is flat or becoming elevated or evolving in size and/or shape is a concern.  On occasions we also add F for funny feeling, when mole begins to itch, burn, or have a discomfort to it, which is not associated with any mechanical or clothing trauma

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