Melanoma, a common type of skin cancer, is s diagnosed in millions of Canadians each year. A significant number of these cases appear in elderly adults, as they are one of the highest risk groups for it. The good news is that with early detection, melanoma is highly treatable, and seniors can make a full recovery. Family caregivers and elderly care providers need to assist the aging adult in doing mole checks several times per year to identify any suspicious-looking moles that might indicate the presence of melanoma.
Due to poor vision, low stamina, reduced flexibility and even memory issues, many elderly adults are not capable of giving themselves a thorough mole inspection. In many cases, they may not even know what to look for when it comes to identifying unusual moles. With the help of family caregivers and elderly care providers, however, they can spot anything suspicious and get to the doctor.
Here are 5 symptoms about melanoma that elderly adults and family caregivers can benefit from knowing as they look for certain things in new or existing moles that are actually signs and symptoms of melanoma:
Symptom #1: Asymmetry
Healthy moles are generally symmetrical. This means that two halves of a mole look like the mirror image of each other. Moles are generally round or oval shaped, and don’t have any unusual shapes where one half is bigger or more irregular than the other.
Symptom #2: Borders
A cancerous mole often has an irregular border, where the darker mole turns into the lighter skin. On most moles, this is a sharply defined perimeter, or even a uniformly feathered look. In a suspicious mole, the border may appear broken, uneven, or jagged instead of smooth.
Symptom #3: Color
Most moles are monochromatic, which means they are all one color. Whether all brown, black, reddish or pink, a healthy mole usually doesn’t have color deviations. Melanoma can present with several different colors in one mole, usually with darker colors dominating.
Symptom #4: Diameter
Moles with melanoma may grow in size over time or may suddenly develop as quite large new moles. They can even appear as a cluster of new moles. Medical experts say that any mole that is larger than ¼ inch should be looked at by a doctor. While mole size should not be the only determiner of melanoma, when added to other symptoms, it can be a clue that something is wrong.
Symptom #5: Evolving
Typical moles don’t change much at all over the years. However, a mole that may need attention will demonstrate changes or evolve in some way, such as in color or size. Any mole that starts to itch, bleed or crust over should also be checked out by a doctor for melanoma.
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