MPSA – Tricia Micallef

A summer comes to an end, many seem to decreasingly exercise proper skin care as they think there is no longer the risk for developing melanomas. It is of utmost importance that head-to-toe examinations in order to look for any suspicious lesions are practiced throughout the year. Although the UV index may decrease, the symptoms of damage may appear at a later stage. Special care should be taken if the person is fair, has many freckles and spends a lot of time in the sun. If caught early enough, melanomas can be effectively treated.

Melanomas are the most dangerous form of skin cancer, which develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations. This damage is often caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds. These tumours originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis.

When carrying out these self-checks one must be familiar with the ABCDEs of melanoma.

A – Asymmetry: If one draws a line through the middle of the sun spot, the two sides should be equal.

B – Borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven

C – Colour: Having a variety of colours and shades of brown, tan and black are a warning sign. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue

D – Diameter: Melanomas are usually larger than 6mm in diameter, however, they may be smaller when first detected.

E – Evolving: Any change in size, shape, colour, elevation or any other trait or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting should prompt the patient to immediately seek professional help.