Melanoma is a common type of skin cancer that has the ability to metastasize (spread from its site of origin to other parts of the body). It arises when melanocytes mutate from their normal state and become cancerous. This change is facilitated by an activating mutation in BRAF kinase (BRAF is a human gene that encodes a protein called B-Raf).
Melanoma is commonly associated with exposure to sunlight, dysplastic naevi (mole), and individuals with fair skin.
There are 4 types of melanoma- superficial spreading, nodular, lentigo maligna, and acral lentiginous. The acral lentiginous type of melanoma is most commonly found in people of Asian, as well as African- American origin.
Normal skin moles can mutate to become melanoma and so it’s vital that any changes in moles are examined thoroughly.
There’s a very common mnemonic used to remember the specific changes to look out for when examining a suspect mole.
The mnemonic is ABCDE!
- A stands for ASYMMETRY
- B stands for BORDER IRREGULARITY
- C stands for COLOR VARIATION
- D stands for DIAMETER >6mm
- E stands for EVOLUTION OVER TIME.
Featured image: Penn Today
Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, and Web Design. She is a member of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She also runs a Medical Communications and Publishing business, and is the author of the newly published children’s book “The Things Around Me”.