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Ask Dr. Dunn: melanoma

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How do I know if a mole has become skin cancer?
Skin cancers, divided into either melanoma or non-melanomas, are extremely prevalent in the U.S. Melanoma, the most life threatening of the bunch, carries a lifetime risk of 1 in 39 for men and 1 in 58 for women. Non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. And while they’re not as life threatening, they’re more prevalent.
Non-melanomas are commonly caused by sun exposure and appear as lesions that don’t seem to heal. They can be red, crusty or even bleed like a sore. Melanomas are more difficult to spot, and can pop up in strange places like the soles of the feet. If you can remember your ABC’s, likely you can remember these features that could indicate a melanoma:

A – asymmetry

B – border irregularity

C – color change or variegation (mixture of colors in one lesion)

D – diameter change or size bigger than 6mm

E – evolution of size, color, shape or symptoms
When in doubt, get it checked out!

Maren Dunn, D.O., is owner of Gallatin Family Medicine, a medical clinic in the Big Sky Meadow Village. Have a question? Email her at

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