Former president Jimmy Carter has been very candid about his diagnosis and treatment for melanoma. Most, but not all, melanomas begin on the skin. However, the initial diagnosis for Jimmy Carter came from removing a 1 inch mass in his liver in August. This probably represents a metastasis (spread) from a lesion that may have regressed or disappeared.
After an MRI of the head and neck, four spots of melanoma were found on the brain. Once cancer has spread this extensively, it is classified as stage IV. President Carter will undergo a very aggressive form of therapy consisting of radiation and a newer drug, Keytruda, to boost his immune system’s ability to fight the disease. He will have four drug treatments at three week intervals.
All of us wish former President Carter the very best. He is a remarkable man.
So what signs of melanoma should you look for?
A) Asymmetry-a mole that has developed an unusual or irregular shape
B) Border-scalloped borders rather than borders that are round and smooth
C) Color-changing color, more than one color, black color
D) Diameter-bigger than a pencil eraser
E) Evolving-any new or changing mole
None of these changes can absolutely diagnose a melanoma, but they may mean you need to have that mole evaluated.