Take Advantage of our June Specials!

(941) 477-4007
Skin Cancer

ABCDE’s of Melanoma

Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer that metastases to other areas of the body and if left untreated, can lead to death. Early detection and treatment are crucial for effectively managing skin cancer.

Learning the ABCDEs of melanoma can help in the early identification of skin cancer when it is most treatable. Apply these warning signs during your monthly skin self-exam, looking for changes in moles and other skin lesions. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that about half of all melanomas are self-detected (1). When any of these signs are noticed during a self-exam, it is advisable to contact a dermatologist to schedule an appointment.

Asymmetry: The shape is irregular which differs from common moles. If you divide the lesion in half and the sides do not mirror each other, the lesion is asymmetrical.

Borders: The borders of the lesion or mole are irregular, notched, scalloped, or blurred.

Color: Moles that contain a variety of colors, including shades of brown or dark black with red, blue, or white spots, indicate a problem.

Diameter: A mole larger than a pencil eraser (greater than 1/4 inch or 6 mm) is suspicious for melanoma.

Evolving: This is the most important sign, evolving means the mole changes shape, size, color, or elevation, or a new symptom occurs, such as bleeding, itching, or crusting.

When conducting your skin exam, check your face, ears, chest, and entire body front and back, including under your arms, forearms, back of the upper arms, and your palms and fingers. Melanoma can arise under a fingernail or toenail. Check your legs and feet, the soles of your feet, and between your toes. Use a mirror to check your back, neck, and buttocks. Fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon and founder of Bliss Dermatology, Dr. Michelle Pennie, recommends annual skin exams to ensure any signs of skin cancer can be detected early.

Skin cancers are caused by the ultraviolet light from the sun that damages the DNA in skin cells. One severe sunburn early in life can increase the risk of skin cancer (2). A previous skin cancer, a family history of skin cancer, and aging increases your risk. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis. Six steps to prevent skin cancer include:

  1. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, even on cloudy days. Apply on all sun-exposed areas, including your lips. Reapply every two hours while you are in the sun.
  2. Chemical sunscreens are different from mineral sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the best.
  3. Invest in a good quality sunscreen. A 2017 study found that almost 3/4ths of the over the counter sunscreens tested did not perform well work or contained dangerous ingredients (3). Two toxic ingredients to avoid are oxybenzone and avobenzone.
  4. Protect your children from the sun and sunburns.
  5. Limit sun exposure, especially between 10 am and 4 pm.
  6. Schedule an annual skin cancer screening.

Schedule a dermatology appointment today.

Florida is the sunshine state. Take time to protect yourself and your loved ones. When you need expert dermatological care, contact Bliss Dermatology with offices in Venice and Englewood, Florida. Bliss Dermatology was founded and is led by board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon Dr. Michelle Pennie. You’re in expert hands. Schedule a skin cancer exam today.

At a Glance

Michelle Pennie, MD

  • Board-Certified Dermatologist
  • Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon
  • Founder and Lead Dermatologist of Bliss Dermatology
  • Learn more

Join Our Email Newsletter