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Teens and Melanoma

By: Carl Thornfeldt, MD, FAAD
Posted: April 29, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 8

Real story: All colors of skin, regardless of race, should be using sunscreen. Naturally darker Fitzpatrick skin types have a lower incidence of skin cancer, but when melanoma is discovered on darker skin, it is more advanced than on lighter skin. In addition, melanomas in darker races are usually distributed to palms, soles and digits. Normally, melanoma occurs in lighter races 25 times more often than in darker races.4

Recognizing signs and symptoms

Look for any changes in the skin, especially in the size or color of moles, other darkly pigmented growths or spots, or new growths. Have you noticed any scaliness, oozing, bleeding or changes in the appearance of a bump or nodule? Also, ask clients if they have experienced changes in sensation, itchiness, tenderness or pain. The spread of pigmentation beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark, is another early indication.

Remember the ABCDEs of skin cancer detection:

A—Asymmetry. Most early melanomas are asymmetrical. This means that you cannot draw a line down the middle and have equal parts on each side.

B—Borders. The borders are uneven.