How to Talk to Your Doctor about Melanoma

So, you’ve found a weird-looking mole, a mutated spot, or a slowly darkening or expanding area of skin. You think it might be melanoma, but you’re not entirely sure. In this blog, Dermatology Associates of Atlanta will not only show you how to identify signs of melanoma but also how to present your concerns to your dermatologist.

Identifying melanoma

Melanoma can be identified by using the ABCDE system of categorization.

A stands for asymmetry. Asymmetry is when the mole isn’t the same on both sides.

B stands for border. Does the border seem consistent or does it have irregular edges?

C stands for color. Most benign moles are one uniform color. If a mole has a combination of brown, tan, and black, then it may be cancerous.

D stands for diameter. The larger the growth, the higher the chances that the mark will be melanoma. One rule of thumb is to look compare the size of the mole to a pencil eraser. If the mole is larger than the eraser, then it has a greater chance of being a cancerous mole.

E stands for evolving. Melanoma causes moles to change in color, size, and shape over time. This is why it is important to do regular self-check, examining suspicious growths. Taking pictures of the growths may also help you to compare the evolution of the growth. It is also important that you regularly seek out a dermatologist for annual screenings.

Talking to your dermatologist

If you are apprehensive about the appointment, consider going with a loved one. If you take a close friend or family member to your appointment, you may feel more supported. Currently, during COVID-19, we are unable to accommodate people other than patients with appointments. However, at this time, you could still bring a supportive loved one to wait for you in the car or sit with you during a virtual appointment.

During the appointment, you should show your dermatologist the skin areas that you are concerned with. Be honest about your skin history. Your dermatologist may ask questions such as:

How long have you had the spot?

Have you noticed it changing recently according to ABCDE guidelines?

Do you smoke, drink, or tan?

Do you take any medicines or supplements?

Have you contracted or been exposed to COVID-19?

Have you experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, shortness of breath, excessive coughing, tiredness, runny nose, or sore throat?

With proper self-checks and regular appointments with a dermatologist, melanoma can be caught early. If you suspect that you are at risk for melanoma or if you are ready to schedule your yearly skin checkup, please call us at (404) 256-4457. We are currently only seeing patients for in-person appointments who have been phone screened in advance due to COVID-19. We are also seeing patients via telemedicine at this moment. Stay up to date with changes dues to COVID-19 on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.