Since May is Melanoma Awareness Month, we’re devoting each of our blogs this month to educating our readers about one of the most deadly cancers: melanoma. In this third of a four-part blog series, we’ll tell you what an ugly duckling and melanoma have in common.
The incidence of invasive melanoma has been rising for several decades, and is currently the sixth most common cancer in both males and females.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (skincancer.org), the key to preventing deaths due to melanoma is detecting the disease early, at a stage when surgical excision of the tumor is still curative. One clinical clue to diagnosis is the “ugly duckling” sign — an early melanoma indicator for both physicians and people in general.
What is the Ugly Duckling Sign?
The ugly duckling sign is a recognized medical research term being used by skin specialists to help people understand how to recognize and track early warning signs of skin cancer.
The ugly duckling sign (pictured here) has an outline shape similar to a duck and will look different from the other moles on your body.
Brief History of the Ugly Duckling
In 1998, doctors introduced the ugly duckling concept — the observation that nevi (raised moles on the skin) in the same person tend to look similar, but that melanoma often deviates from this nevus pattern.
This clinical realization pointed to the importance of not just evaluating how the questionable moles morph as laid out in the ABCD evaluation method, but also comparing it to that of surrounding lesions. (Source: SkinCancer.org)
How to Use the Ugly Duckling.
Melanoma often manifests some or all of the ABCD features we discussed in an earlier blog, namely Asymmetry, Border, Change, Color, Dark, and Diameter. However, clinicians diagnosing potential skin cancers face the challenge of trying to distinguish melanoma from many other atypical moles, which also often display some or all of the ABCD criteria.
Most clinicians believe that evaluating patients using a combination of the ABCD early indicators and the ugly duckling sign is the best way to early diagnosis of melanoma.
At Dermatology Associates, Dr. Collins also uses the “ugly duckling sign” to aid in the recognition of skin cancer. If you suspect you may have the ugly duckling sign, or if you have a suspicious mole that you would like to have checked out, click here to schedule an appointment.
Dermatology Associates offers a full spectrum of leading edge medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology services from offices in Savannah and Vidalia.