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(But Let’s Focus on Melanoma!)

by LC Arisman

May is the American Stroke Awareness Month, also Arthritis Awareness Month, National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Healthy Vision Month, the National Mediterranean Diet Month, Melanoma Detection and Prevention Month, National High Blood Pressure Education Month, National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, and National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, just to name a few!

There are also Awareness Weeks—for Neuropathy, Stuttering, Hurricane Preparedness, and Healthy and Safe Swimming. Don’t Fry Day is May 27, and World No-Tobacco Day is May 31. With so many different things to be aware of, it can be hard to choose an area for focus. So I’m going to speak to something I’ve experienced.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but when recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable. Here’s what to keep an eye on—your ABC(DE)’s of Melanoma.

A is for Asymmetry: If you draw a line down the center of your mole, each side should match (i.e., be symmetrical). If not, have it checked by your doctor.

B is for Border: Check for a smooth, even border around your mole. Melanomas tend to have uneven borders with edges that may be notched or scalloped.

C is for Color: If your mole has a variety of colors within it, or various shades of a color, that is a warning sign.

D is for Diameter: Larger than the eraser on a pencil? Have it checked.

E is for Evolving: Is your mole changing over time? If the elevation, size, shape, or color changes, have it evaluated. Also, if there are new traits like itching or burning, have it checked.

Check your moles once a month yourself, and every year, have your skin examined by your dermatologist. In the meantime, avoid the sun during peak hours (10am to 4pm), use broad spectrum sunscreen every day, and for the love of freckles, stay away from tanning!