Melanoma is one of the more common types of cancer, and it is estimated that almost 74,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2015. Luckily, melanoma is relatively easy to treat when it is caught early. When melanoma is discovered while in the earliest stage (1A), the 5 year survival rate is 97% and the 10 year survival rate is 95%. Like all types of cancers, if melanoma is not caught early and treated as soon as possible it can spread and the survival rate is lower when the cancer is at a later stage when found. It is very important to pay attention to your skin, and visit a dermatologist to have any questionable moles or skin lesions examined. Some common signs and symptoms of melanoma include the following.
Moles can come in several different colors and shades, but a normal mole will be uniform in color. A mole that has several different shades of brown or black can possibly be malignant, as this is a common sign of melanoma. While less common, a spot of melanoma may also include patches of red, white, or pink.
While not all moles or birthmarks are typically round, they are typically symmetrical in shape, and look the same on each side. Moles or birthmarks that are asymmetrical may be an early sign of melanoma, so it is important to have them checked out by a dermatologist. Your dermatologist may opt to surgically remove an asymmetrical mole or birthmark as a precaution, and the tissue sample will be sent to a lab to see if it is indeed a melanoma lesion.
Changes in Moles
Some moles are congenital, meaning that you are born with them, while others will appear on your skin throughout your life. The appearance of a new mole is not necessarily a reason to panic, but if you notice that a new mole is growing bigger, changing in color, or taking on a new shape you need to make a dermatologist appointment as soon as possible.
Pain or Itching
Melanoma may cause moles to become itchy, or they may feel sore and painful when touched. It is also possible for a mole to get a scaly appearance, and it may bleed easily if you scratch it.
If you have any of these signs and symptoms, don't ignore them. Melanoma will only get worse with time, so a visit to a dermatologist like Advanced Dermatology Care is essential. Best case scenario, you just have an atypical benign mole, but even if you do have melanoma you have an excellent shot of beating it with early medical care.