Dispelling common myths about melanoma is important in identifying melanoma and treating the condition in its early stages. Myths surround the disease and may lead some patients to decide against having a mole or growth checked because they believe certain myths about melanoma. Deciphering from what is myth and what is fact is important, but when in question, patients are encouraged to always seek medical consultation.
Myth: Hairy Moles are Always Benign
False. It's true that most moles with hair are benign. However, like with most rules, there will be exceptions. Always have suspicious pigmented moles checked regardless of whether or not they have hair.
Myth: The ABCD Rule Applies to All Melanomas
False. Again, as with most rules there will be exceptions to the rule. The ABCD rule stands for Asymmetry, Border Irregularity, Color and Diameter. This was a rule designed to help physicians distinguish between benign moles and cancerous moles. Melanomas are usually asymmetrical, meaning that one half does not match the other (Asymmetry). Melanomas also usually have unique borders (Border Irregularity) and may have a variety of colors (Color). They are also usually at least 6mm in diameter (Diameter).
However, certain types of melanomas may appear as symmetrical, may be raised and may have just one color. They may also be smaller than the 6mm diameter outlined in the ABCD rule. New growths, changes to existing growths and sores that do not heal should be examined by a trained professional.
Myths: Skin Cancer is Confined to White Caucasians
False. While most skin cancer patients are white Caucasian, people of all races and colors may develop melanoma and other skin cancers.
Those with fair skin, blue or green eyes and blonde or red hair are at greater risk of developing melanoma. Individuals with a family history of melanoma are also at greater risk.
Myth: Sun Exposure Causes Melanoma
True. While there may be certain factors that put patients at greater risk of melanoma, many cases are caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, usually from the sun. Tanning beds and other artificial ultraviolet light sources may also cause to melanoma.
Even occasional high-intensity exposure to ultraviolet light can have negative effects and may cause melanoma. Patients who have had a second-degree sunburn that has blistered at any time in their life may be at risk of melanoma.
If you notice an unusual or suspicious growth or mark on your body, getting it checked for melanoma is a wise move. Early diagnosis of melanoma and other forms of cancer may increase the chances of successfully treating the disease. For more about melanoma and dispelling myths surrounding the disease, consult a licensed professional.