The Shapeshifting Nature of Skin Cancer
- Posted on: Nov 15 2017
Shapeshifting is a magical characteristic referred to throughout ancient folklore. The term describes the ability of a person to metamorphosis into something else. In today’s terms, we may refer to shapeshifting casually to illustrate a point about a certain person or, in the case of this blog, a condition. Here, we want to point out the vital importance of maintaining a watchful eye on any skin lesion. Skin cancer cannot be placed neatly into a box marked “ABCDE.” Sometimes, its out-of-the-box characteristics can fool us. With patient outcomes on the line, there is no room for error.
The Standard Biology of a Growth
Patients are taught to assess moles and other growths on the skin by using ABCDE to guide their observation of Asymmetry, Border irregularities, Color variance, Diameter, and Evolution. This seems simple enough, right? If a border is jagged and out of balance, or if growth is multi-colored or large, or has changed, it should be checked in a dermatologist’s office. Simple; but not necessarily enough.
The problem with reliance only on this technique is that a patient may miss non-melanoma skin cancer or even the presence of melanoma that sits outside of these strict characteristics. amelanotic melanoma is a prime example. This type of growth may be easily missed if one refers only to the widely-known characteristics of cancerous growths due to their lack of pigment and texture.
Above and Beyond: It’s Where We Must Go
There is a relatively simple method that doctors and their patients may use to discern abnormal nature from that typical growth that a given individual may encounter. Some refer to it as the Ugly Duckling technique. We all have a degree of consistency across the growths on our body. The Ugly Duckling proposes that we look for the oddity; the growth that doesn’t look like all the others, even if that growth doesn’t fit squarely into the ABCDE box. An example of this concept is the recognition of a small red mole on a person whose norm is to have large dark moles.
Other characteristics to notice include a pink, clear, or pearly white mark on the skin, or crusty patch that just doesn’t seem to go away. Finally, open sores that linger or recur may indicate the growth of cancerous cells.
Physicians and patients that are well-informed make the best partners catch skin cancer early. Learn more about our mission and Mohs courses to further your knowledge. Call (800) 616-2767.
Posted in: Skin Cancer