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May 16, 2019

The ABCDEs of Melanoma: How to Know When to Worry  

Joyce Knestrick, PhD, CRNP, FAANP

Memorial Day is right around the corner – a time when many people break out the sunscreen for the summer and worry a little more about their skin health. Melanoma is of concern because it’s the most dangerous and fastest growing of all the skin cancers. One in 50 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime, and it is the second most common cancer among people between the ages of 15 and 29. Fortunately, it’s also very treatable, if caught early.  

Despite the prevalence, most people don’t know what exactly they’re looking for when they self-check for melanoma, and that can be unsettling. Here’s a helpful checklist that you should use as your starting point: 

A. Asymmetry – it has an irregular shape.
B. Border – the edges are irregular or blurred.
C. Color – the color is not consistent.
D. Diameter – it’s larger than a pencil eraser.
E. Evolving – it’s changing in any way. 

Not all melanoma fits this criterion, so talk to your nurse practitioner or health provider about any new or unusual skin growth. Remember, melanoma doesn’t have to start in a mole. Get an expert opinion on anything that seems out of the ordinary! To learn more visit www.wechoosenps.org.