Beyond the ABCDEs

By now most of us know the  melanoma ABCDEs, the early detection acronym that  stands for Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variations, Diameter over 6 mm , and Evolving or change, the key warning signs of the disease. But that might not be enough. In a recent study out of the United Kingdom, researchers found that the incidence of nodular melanoma is increasing. An aggressive type of skin cancer, nodular melanoma does not exhibit the typical ABCDE characteristics. “Biologically, nodular melanomas behave differently from other subtypes, and the ABCDE diagnosis may lead to late presentation,” said Dr. Andrew Lock, one of the study’s authors.  There are, however, some other tricks that can aid in early recognition of nodular melanomas:

The “Ugly Duckling” method: Check for any mole or lesion that stands out from the “flock.” It may be larger or darker than surrounding moles, smaller and redder, or the sole mole on an area of the body.

The EFG rule: “Elevated, Firm on palpitation, and Growing progressively for a month.”

The Blue-Black rule: Pay special attention to any darkly pigmented lesion containing some dark blue or black color that doesn’t resemble the surrounding lesions.

All of these techniques can help you as well as physicians recognize nodular melanomas early, when they are most treatable. In addition, skin experts may rely on the Beauty and the Beast rule: examining the lesion with a magnifying device called a dermoscope, the physician compares its microscopic pattern to nine other typically benign patterns, and if it strays from any of these patterns, a biopsy should be considered.

Published on November 3, 2014