Melanoma forms in what is known as a melanocyte. These skin cells make the pigment known as melanin that protects our bodies from the sun by giving our skin a tan or brown color.
The leading cause of melanoma is Ultraviolet (UV) rays. Although many UV rays come directly from the sun, some UV rays can come from tanning beds as well. It is important to remember that most damage that is done to the skin may be a result of extensive sun exposure years or even decades before the diagnosis.
Who are at Risk?
Unlike the more common forms of skin cancer such as Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) or Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), “most of the gene changes commonly seen in melanoma cells are not inherited.” Rather, melanoma is typically a direct result of sun damage. However, this does not mean that other negative gene mutations including the “tumor suppressor genes such as CDKN2A (also known as p16)” cannot be inherited and increase an individual’s chances of contracting melanoma.
ABCDE rule by the American Cancer Society
Below we have provided you with the ABCDE melanoma rule that was created by the American Cancer Society.
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Importance of Diagnosis
It is extremely important to detect melanoma in its early stages. The later melanoma is found the more deadly the disease can be. Regular skin exams are important particularly if you have a family history of melanoma.
This article was written by Christine L. Brady