Most melanomas start as new spots

Research we're watching

Published: December, 2017

Image: © ChesiireCat/Thinkstock

To catch skin cancer early, be on the lookout for new spots on your skin. A recent study found that more often than not, melanoma occurs as a new spot on your body — not as changes in an existing mole. The study, published online August 29 by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that only 29% of melanomas came from an existing mole on the body that changed. In 71% of cases, melanoma occurred in a new lesion that popped up in a new place on the skin. In addition, the study authors noted that melanomas that do occur in existing moles tend to be thinner than melanomas in new lesions.

In addition to looking for new and unusual spots on your skin, remember your ABCDs to spot the signs of melanoma:

  • A — asymmetric appearance

  • B — irregular borders

  • C — multiple colors in the lesion

  • D — a diameter larger than 6 millimeters.

Melanomas are commonly found on the head and neck, upper back, torso and lower legs. Spotting changes early can help you find it when it is most treatable.

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