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Preventing Melanoma

Preventing melanoma involves minimizing sun exposure and maximizing sun protection.  Early detection is critical: follow up on these ABCD's of melanoma to minimize your risk.  Moles are suspicious if they are A asymmetrical, if they have B Border irregularity, if they vary in C Color, or if they increase in D Diameter.  If you notice any spots on your skin that change in color, size or shape, or you notice any unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking or easy bleeding, discuss this with your physician.  An annual routine skin exam is also a good idea. 

Are there particular spots that should get extra scrutiny?  Look for your most sun-exposed sites.  Women are most likely to get melanoma on their faces, upper backs, chests, and lower legs.  Men are more likely to get it on their faces, upper and lower backs, and chests.

If your doctor suspects melanoma, you'll need to have a biopsy to remove the entire suspicious growth.  Early stage melanomas, however, have an excellent 5 year survival rate of over 90%.

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Created: 8/24/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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