Melanoma Monday: Learn How To SPOT Skin Cancer

By  //  May 5, 2014

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ABOVE VIDEO: Michael R. Migden, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, talks about the importance of getting regular skin cancer screening exams and checking out that weird spot on your body.

EDITOR’S NOTEWith summer upon us, and the need to be ever mindful of the effects of sun exposure on our skin, the press release below from the American Academy of Dermatology, which focuses on heightening the awareness of skin cancer and how best to prevent and detect it early, comes at a very opportune time.  May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month® and today is not just Cinco de Mayo, but also Melanoma Monday®.

—Dr. Jim Palermo, Editor-in-Chief

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY — It is estimated that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – every hour.

Dr. Bret M. Coldiron, President of the American Academy of Dermatology

In recognition of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month® in May and Melanoma Monday®, observed on May 5, the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) is encouraging the public to learn how to SPOT Skin Cancer™. The campaign aims to save lives by emphasizing the importance of early detection.

“When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable,” said board-certified dermatologist, Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy. “Despite this, many people don’t know how to be their own detective when it comes to skin cancer, including what to look for on their skin or when they should see a dermatologist.”


To increase people’s chances of spotting skin cancer early, the Academy recommends everyone learn the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:

Think melanoma when you detect an asymmetrical mole with uneven borders that tend to be scalloped; its larger than a pencil eraser and may contain two or more shades of black, brown, red, white, or blue.
Think melanoma when you detect an asymmetrical mole with uneven borders that tend to be scalloped; its larger than a pencil eraser and may contain two or more shades of black, brown, red, white, or blue.

A – is for Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
B – is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
C – is for Color that varies from one area to another.
D – is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
E – is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

“Although skin cancer is more common among people with light or fair skin, everyone is at risk of getting this life-threatening disease,” said Dr. Coldiron. “SPOT Skin Cancer™ encourages people to invest in their health and spot skin cancer early, when it is most treatable. If you see anything on your skin that is changing, itching or bleeding, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.”


To further learn how to spot skin cancer, visit the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer™ website – – for valuable information and resources on skin cancer prevention and detection, including:

    • How to SPOT Skin Cancer™ infographic containing tips on how to perform a skin cancer self-exam
    • The SPOT Skin Cancer™ Quiz to test how much you know – or don’t know – about skin cancer
    • How to find a free skin cancer screening in your area: nearly 500 screenings are available nationwide in May
    • A How to Select a Sunscreen infographic with tips for choosing a sunscreen that reduces your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging

spot_skin_cancer_logo_300SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the Academy’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer. The Academy designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday® as a way to raise awareness of melanoma and encourage early detection through self-exams.

The public can help raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer by using the hashtag #SPOTskincancer when sharing Academy resources on social media and encouraging friends and family members to take advantage of the Academy’s free skin cancer screenings in their area. Individuals who have been affected by skin cancer can share their personal stories on and provide support and inspiration for others fighting skin cancer, as well as communicate the importance of prevention and early detection.

imgres-8Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).