Melanoma is a form of cancer that begins in the cells that make the pigment melanin. It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but it can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines.
What to look for:
One of the most visually variable of the skin cancers, melanoma can be detected in several ways, but the only way to accurately diagnose melanoma – and other forms of skin cancer – is to take a tissue sample and check it for cancer cells.
In most cases the first indications of melanoma show up in a new mole or an existing mole that is changing. Here’s what to look for when examining moles:
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Irregular Border: The edges of the mole are jagged or blurry. Check to see if the pigment has spread beyond the border of the mole to the surrounding skin.
- Uneven Color: If the mole appears in different shades of brown, black, or tan. Sometimes it may even show tints of pink, white, red or blue.
- Diameter: The mole appears to be increasing in size.
- Pattern of Change: The mole has changed over the past several weeks or months.
Check for Changes and Call Your Dermatologist
Be sure to check your skin thoroughly on a regular basis. If you have moles or skin sores that are new or are changing, make an appointment to have them examined by a medical dermatologist as soon as possible. A skin biopsy can be performed during an office visit and, depending on the findings of the report, a treatment plan can be developed to manage the cancer before it spreads.
Here in the High Desert of beautiful Bend, Oregon, we get to enjoy amazing weather and a lot of gorgeous sunny days, but unprotected exposure to the sun, especially over a number of years, can increase your chances of skin cancer. Don’t let it get away from you. Make an appointment with us at Central Oregon Dermatology if you have any concerns about moles, rashes, or skin conditions.