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There are several signs that a skin growth may be melanoma. To check for this type of skin cancer, remember the ABCDEs of Melanoma. This image is a closeup of a growth on a patient's shoulder. A doctor's hands are shown in the picture as the skin growth is analyzed.

Skin Cancer Facts: Signs that a Growth May be Melanoma

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide. Of the various forms of skin cancer, melanoma is known as the most serious because it can spread to other parts of the body.

It’s important to check your skin on your own and have it checked professionally in order to identify growths that may be melanoma.

Know Your ABCDEs of Melanoma

There are several signs that a growth may be melanoma, and remembering “ABCDE” may help.

A = Asymmetry

One half of the spot is unlike the other half.

B = Border

The spot has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.

C = Color

The spot has varying colors from one area to the next.

D = Diameter

Melanomas are usually – but not always – greater than 6 millimeters, which is about the size of a pencil eraser.

E = Evolving

The spot looks different than other spots on your body or changes over time in size, shape, or color.

Another sign of melanoma is a dark streak beneath a fingernail or toenail.

Skin Cancer in Children

Melanoma can look different in children than in adults.

It is very rare in children, but about 300 to 400 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Because it is rare, however, it’s often not recognized until the later stages, so it’s important for parents to be cognizant of the possibility.

The ABCDEs of melanoma still apply, but additional signs of melanoma in children include:

  • Red, pink, purple, or flesh-colored spot or growth: In adults, melanoma often has more than one color, and you may see brown or black as one of the colors. In children, melanoma can be one single color, and it may not be black or brown.
  • Bleeding or itchy spot or growth: Studies reveal that many childhood melanomas bleed or are very itchy.
  • Growth that looks like an open sore: The open sore may heal and return.
  • Bump on the skin that’s growing rapidly: In adults, melanoma tends to be flat. In children, it’s often raised.

If you see a spot that is growing quickly and is now larger than other spots on your child’s skin, it’s time to have one of our board-certified dermatologists examine it.

Facts about Melanoma

The following statistics about melanoma reinforce the need to have your skin examined regularly:

  • More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the United States every hour.
  • Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
  • When detected early, the 5-year survival rate is 99 percent. The survival rate falls to 65 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and to 25 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.
  • From 2010 to 2020, the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 47 percent.
  • Only 20 to 30 percent of melanomas are found in moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on apparently normal skin.
  • Regular daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher may reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer by 50 percent.

Signs that a growth is melanoma differs from person to person, so it’s important to get new growths checked by one of our dermatologists in Commerce, West Bloomfield, Novi, or Berkley.  Depending on the stage, melanoma treatment may entail excision, radiation, use of medication, and/or chemotherapy.

Call us to make an appointment today for a full diagnosis.

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