Melanomas: What You Need To Know

Melanoma is a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, which is caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and can be fatal if not caught and treated early. Melanoma often starts in an existing mole, or can appear as a new spot on the skin.

Warning Signs of Melanoma

It's important to be aware of any changes to existing moles on your body and to also watch for new spots. To help you recognize melanomas, use the ABCDE rule

  • A is for asymmetry. Look for moles with irregular shapes, where one half looks different than the other.
  • B is for border. Check for moles with irregular, scalloped, or notched edges.
  • C is for color. Spot moles with different shades of brown, tan, or black. Melanomas may also be white, red, or blue.
  • D is for diameter. Look for moles that are larger than ΒΌ inch across.
  • E is for evolving. Pay attention to changes in size, shape, color or elevation of a mole over time.

If you notice any changes to existing moles or any new spots, contact a doctor for a skin exam. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Prevention & Treatment

The best way to prevent melanoma is to protect your skin from excessive exposure to the sun. Here are some preventive steps you can take:

  • Avoid direct sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek shade and wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher; be sure to reapply after swimming or sweating.
  • Monitor your skin for suspicious spots.

If you are diagnosed with melanoma, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment typically includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and/or immunotherapy. To learn more about melanoma, its signs and symptoms, risk factors, and preventive steps, please visit