Melanoma Monday

To raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and to encourage early detection through self-exams, the American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday®.

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Melanoma is a potentially deadly form of skin cancer that can often be prevented or successfully treated with early detection. In recognition of Melanoma Monday, Dr. Timothy Jochen, founder of Contour Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center, shares essential tips for self-exams to raise awareness of melanoma and the importance of early detection.

Tip 1: Know the ABCDEs of Melanoma

When examining your skin, be familiar with the ABCDE guidelines for identifying melanoma:

  • Asymmetry: If one half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other half.
  • Border: Irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined borders.
  • Color: Varied colors, including shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue.
  • Diameter: Melanomas are usually larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser), but they can be smaller.
  • Evolving: Moles or skin lesions that change in size, shape, or color.

Tip 2: Perform Monthly Self-Exams

Regular self-examinations increase the likelihood of spotting changes in your skin early. To perform a thorough self-exam, follow these steps:

  1. Examine your face, neck, and scalp, using a mirror and comb or hairdryer to part your hair.
  2. Inspect your hands, including your nails, palms, and the skin between your fingers.
  3. Use a full-length mirror to check your arms, underarms, and torso (both front and back).
  4. Sit down to examine your legs, feet, and the skin between your toes. Don’t forget to check your toenails and soles.
  5. Use a hand mirror or enlist the help of a partner to examine hard-to-see areas, like the back of your thighs, buttocks, and genital area.

Tip 3: Document and Monitor Your Moles

Take pictures of your moles or use a body mole map to track their appearance over time. This helps you notice any changes and provides a reference for your dermatologist.

Tip 4: Understand Your Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing melanoma, such as:

  • A family history of melanoma.
  • A history of sunburns, especially during childhood.
  • A high number of moles (50 or more).
  • Fair skin, light hair, and light eyes.
  • A weakened immune system.
  • A history of indoor tanning. Knowing your risk factors can help you stay vigilant and take extra precautions to protect your skin.

Tip 5: Practice Sun Safety

Reducing your exposure to UV radiation can lower your risk of developing melanoma. Practice sun safety by:

  • Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, even on cloudy days.
  • Seeking shade during peak UV hours (10 AM – 4 PM).
  • Wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Avoiding tanning beds.


Melanoma is a serious health concern, but with increased awareness and proactive self-examinations, you can take control of your skin health. Remember to follow Dr. Jochen’s tips for self-exams, understand your risk factors, and practice sun safety to minimize your risk of melanoma. Early detection is crucial in treating melanoma, so make an appointment with a dermatologist if you notice any concerning changes in your skin. Together, we can raise awareness and reduce the impact of melanoma on our communities.

author avatar
Dr. Timothy Jochen Medical Director, Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center
Dr. Jochen specializes in Mohs Surgery for skin cancer removal, facial rejuvenation including cosmetic laser technology, Botox® and facial fillers, soft tissue augmentation, leg and facial vein treatment, tumescent liposuction and hair restoration/transplants.

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