Oncologist Dr. Eugenio Galindo reveals key warning signs for the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The least common but most deadly form of skin cancer, more than 7,000 Americans will lose their lives to melanoma this year based on the latest estimates. A prominent cancer specialist serving the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas, Dr. Eugenio Galindo outlines a number of key warning signs for the deadly disease.
“Melanoma accounts for only around one percent of all skin cancer cases, but the overwhelming majority of skin cancer deaths,” reveals Dr. Galindo.
This year, it’s estimated that, out of 96,480 newly diagnosed cases, 7,230 people in the United States will die as a result of melanoma, according to the AIM at Melanoma Foundation. “Despite incredible advances in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research, melanoma continues to kill as many people as it did more than 30 years ago,” Dr. Galindo explains.
In fact, the number of diagnosed cases is up significantly in recent years, he says. “With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that people are familiar with the primary warning signs,” adds the cancer specialist, “of melanoma, especially as, when caught early, the disease is highly treatable.”
The American Cancer Society promotes what it calls the ‘ABCDE’ rule for identifying melanoma warning signs. A through E, these are asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. “Asymmetry is where a part of a mole doesn’t match the rest,” explains Dr. Galindo, “while border refers to watching for edges which become, or start to appear, irregular or blurred.”
“Color,” he continues, “should be similarly uniform, and if a mole appears to consist of different shades of brown or black, or there are patches of red, pink, blue, or white, there may be cause for concern.”
Of diameter, Dr. Galindo goes on to explain that where a mole, or another area of new skin discoloration, is larger than a quarter of an inch across, an expert opinion should be sought to rule out the possibility of melanoma. “The same,” he adds, “is true of moles or areas of discoloration which have become noticeably larger over time.”
Lastly, Dr. Galindo touches on what the American Cancer Society calls ‘evolving.’
“The spread of pigment into surrounding skin from a mole or spot, or any redness, represents what we call evolving,” he explains, “and must be investigated.”
Further to asymmetry and border, color, and diameter changes, plus the evolution of spots, moles, or other areas of discoloration of the skin, Dr. Galindo also highlights a number of further potential warnings signs. “A sore that won’t heal, unusual swelling, or sensation changes in the skin around moles or birthmarks should also be looked at,” he adds, “as should any tenderness, itchiness, bleeding, or pain.”
If an individual or a friend or family member observe any one or more of these symptoms in themselves or someone else, it’s important, says Dr. Eugenio Galindo, that they seek medical attention.
“Doing so could very well save your life,” he adds, wrapping up, “or the life of a much-loved family member or friend, so it’s essential to remain vigilant for the warning signs of melanoma.”