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The ABCDEs of Melanoma

A – Asymmetry: 

Look for irregularly shaped moles. Lesions that cannot be split in half evenly should be considered suspicious.

B – Border irregularity:

Look for sharp, jagged, or notched borders.

C – Color:

Look for uneven color throughout the mole, multiple colors within the same mole, or moles that look much darker than others.

D – Diameter:

Look for moles that are increasing in size or moles that are out of proportion in size compared to the others.

E – Evolution:

Look for something that seems odd about a mole but doesn’t necessarily follow the other guidelines listed.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are many types of skin cancer. It is vital that you be seen right away, at the first sign of a suspicious lesion or mole, so that you can be diagnosed.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs on sun-exposed areas of your body, like your neck, arms or face. Monitor your skin for the following signs:

  • A pearly or waxy bump
  • A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
  • A bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and then returns

Patients who have had one basal cell carcinoma have an over 50 percent chance of developing another, so regular skin checks are crucial after successful treatment.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma occurs on sun-exposed areas of your body, like your neck, arms or face.

Monitor your skin for the following signs:

  • Firm red nodules
  • Flat lesions with a scaly, crusted surface

Actinic Keratosis (pre-cancer for squamous cell carcinoma)

Actinic keratoses appear on the skin as rough, red, flat, or raised growths commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the skin. They are considered to be “pre-cancers” for squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. Actinic keratoses are the result of cumulative UV exposure that causes DNA damage in skin cells, causing those groups of cells to grow at an abnormal rate.

The rate of individual transformation is low, but for a patient with a number of actinic keratoses, the chance of a squamous cell carcinoma developing at some point can be over 10 to15 percent.


Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It arises from the pigment, making cells of the skin known as melanocytes. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, as it can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs of the body if not detected early. It is for this reason that we urge everyone to get annual skin checks.

Melanomas can arise out of existing moles that change or can start as a new spot entirely. The incidence of melanoma has risen over 200 percent since the 1970s and is likely due to the popularity of tanning beds and significant sun exposure people see over a lifetime. Over 80 percent of melanomas are related to sun exposure.

More people get skin cancer from tanning beds than people get lung cancer from smoking.

Facts about Melanoma

  • A person’s risk of melanoma more than doubles if he or she has had five blistering sunburns in their lifetime.
  • Regular use of sunscreen can decrease the risk of melanoma by more than 50 percent.
  • People who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
  • More people develop skin cancer from tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking.
  • A full 25 percent of all cases of melanoma occur in people under the age of 45.
  • Melanoma is the main cause of cancer in women in their 20s


We firmly believe that early detection saves lives. Schedule your skin check today!

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma causes a firm, shiny nodule that shows up on, or just beneath, the skin and in hair follicles. You will find this form of skin cancer on the head, neck, and torso.

Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is an uncommon and aggressive form of skin cancer that originates in the oil glands of the skin. It appears as hard nodules and can develop anywhere; however, it usually occurs on the eyelid. 

Kaposi Sarcoma

This rare form of skin cancer develops in the skin’s blood vessels and causes red or purple patches on the skin or mucous membranes. This form of skin cancer often occurs in people with a weakened immune system.

Skin Cancer Treatment:
Mohs Surgery

Every case of skin cancer is different, so treatment options vary from case to case. The first step is diagnosing skin cancer. This can be done by:

  • A physical exam and review of your medical history
  • A skin exam looking for bumps or moles that are abnormal
  • A skin biopsy where a part of the growth is retrieved and then tested

Depending on what type of skin cancer you are diagnosed with, one of the following treatments may be prescribed:

  • Surgery, during which the tumor, along with the normal tissue around it, is cut from the skin
  • Mohs Surgery, a micrographic surgery in which the tumor is removed from the skin in thin layers

Learn More about Mohs Surgery

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