Too Small to Be a Melanoma? Think Again.

to err is human

A common screening measure for determining if a mole is skin cancer is if the size is larger than 6 mm in diameter. This corresponds to the size of a pencil eraser.

However, new research has shown that at least in one study 55% of the melanomas were actually smaller than 6 mm in diameter. Although the commonly cited ABCDE (asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving) guide to determining if a mole is suspicious is helpful, it is imperfect.

Unfortunately, melanoma is actually becoming more common; in fact, according to the National Cancer Institute:

In the United States … the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

The good news is that melanoma is the only deadly cancer that can be diagnosed just by examining the skin. If you have a new, changing, or suspicious mole, even if it is smaller than a pencil eraser, then have it checked as soon as possible by your dermatologist.

Even a small melanoma is a melanoma.

Photo credit: FCC, pj_vanf

1 thought on “Too Small to Be a Melanoma? Think Again.”

  1. I don’t know if you will see this but I know I should go for a routine head to toe check but am afraid to. I know better. I have worked around medicine for 20 years (except for last two but will be going back soon.) I know prevention is key.

    But of all the exams one could have …going to the dermatologist scares me the most. (even more than the dentist and I have told him I’d rather get a pap)I have had moles since a young girl. Grew up at the Jersey shore. Have had a lot of sun exposure although my facial skin gets complimented often but I do have a skin routine.

    Anyway…different sizes, different colors and new ones since last couple of years. Some are small some are larger. I am not covered in moles but I have them here and there, from the bottom of my foot up legs, private places and on up. I don’t think there is a body part other than nose and mouth that doesn’t have something. Some are even cute. (in my opinion)

    I am afraid if I go…I will be a patient forever because the doc will keep finding things. The whole idea of all that cutting is torturous. Umm…I know that ounce of prevention. Look at McCain. He must’ve gone through a lot.

    I do use sunscreen on my face but I am not a die hard with it.

    Also have heard that certain sunscreens block the good sun while letting bad sun in. AND woman at health food store was saying that people often get melanomas where the son doesn’t reach them. Under socks or usually clothed areas.

    Also have heard the best way to get vitamin D is from sunshine. And that people in southern belt have less colon CA and breast CA then northerners.

    is any of this true? I know the vitamin D is.

    Also…interesting that melanoma rate is going up but more and more people use sunscreen. Any correlation?

    I know I have to overcome this irrational fear. I am thinking that most skin things are benign…but still..

Comments are closed.