The Signs to Look For: Diagnosing Melanoma in Its Early Stages

Melanoma is perhaps the most common skin cancer that afflicts thousands of Americans every year. Although this statistic sounds a little bleak, its saving grace is that melanoma has a near 100% survival rate when it is found and treated as soon as it’s noticed. As inconvenient as it may be for some of us, visiting your dermatologist once a year can make a huge difference in early detection. Many dermatologists use an A through I algorithm when diagnosing early skin cancers like melanoma. Here is how it works.


A, Analysis and Ancestry

A great affordable dermatologist Norman OK will first check your family history for melanoma and other cancer diagnoses. The dermatologist will also analyze your unique body and any skin anomalies you may have. Having a critical and discerning eye is an invaluable skill in pinpointing things that are unique to you.

B, Blade Biopsy

When a dermatologist comes across a suspicious mole, they will take a blade biopsy to further investigate it. During a blade biopsy, sometimes called a shave biopsy, the physician will

C, Color and Co-malignancy

The color of a mole can mean that there’s something deeper going on with a mole. While moles can be a variety of colors from brown to black to pink, when their color isn’t consistent or is white or gray, there may be cause for concern.

D, Dermoscopy and Distribution

Certain dermatomes, also known as skin segments or body stripes, have a higher likelihood of developing a melanoma, so dermatologists will pay more in depth attention to certain areas of the body. Each dermatome corresponds to a spinal nerve, and they can sometimes overlap. This is how shingles express outwardly on the body.

E, Evolution and Embryology

The left side of the body is more likely to develop melanomas. Because of embryologic factors like having blue eyes, red hair, sun sensitivity and an inability to tan, some individuals are more susceptible to developing skin cancers.

F, Funny Appearances

Oftentimes, a funny looking mole can foreshadow a deeper problem. When examining moles for melanoma, a physician will be looking for clearly defined borders, symmetry, size and height. When a mole breaks from these norms, it could be cause for concern.

G, Genetics

There are groups like the Academic Alliance in Dermatology that have the ability to go back four generations in a patient’s family tree to identify specific trends and potential problem areas to look out for. This can be a big help in diagnosing melanoma in its early stages and avoiding some long lasting consequences or effects of melanoma.

H, History

A detailed medical history will include many factors that you may not know are important in making a diagnosis. Things that a dermatologist will look at include environmental factors, your occupation, surgical history, and social factors when attempting to make a melanoma diagnosis.

I, Instinct and Intuition

A good doctor knows when to trust their intuition. When you pair a good dermatologist’s intuition with a patient’s instinct, you have a wonderful partnership that can find anomalies earlier than later.

Treating melanoma is a lot easier when it’s detected early. That’s why it is so important to get your skin checked at least once a year. If you know that you’re predisposed to melanoma or suspect that you may be, be diligent about your check ups. Be mindful of your sun exposure and the things you put on your skin. Do your own skin checks, so you can point out any areas of concern to your dermatologist.

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