Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

May 22, 2017
Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


NEW CITY, NY - - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert remind residents that May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month - an ideal time to examine your skin - it could save your life!

There are three major types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are very common, and are usually very treatable. Melanoma is a much less common and more serious type of skin cancer. The good news is that it is almost always curable in its early stages. However, it is much more likely than basal or squamous cell skin cancer to spread to other parts of the body if not caught early.

"To find skin cancer early, it is important to check your skin about once a month. Know your pattern of moles, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you'll see any changes to show your doctor. In addition to regular self-exams, part of your routine cancer check-ups should include a skin exam by your doctor," said Dr. Ruppert.

To do a good skin self-exam, look over your whole body, including your back, your scalp, your nails, the soles of your feet, between your toes, and on the palms of your hands. Do the self-exam in front of a full-length mirror and use a hand-held mirror for places that are hard to see. Look for any unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking, or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels.

Important warning signs for melanoma are a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color, a new spot on your skin, or a spot that looks different from the other spots on your skin (known as the ugly duckling sign). If you have any of these warning signs, have your skin checked by your doctor right away. In the early stages, melanoma may not cause any symptoms, but sometimes melanoma will itch, bleed, or feel painful. Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you and ask your doctor to look at areas that may be hard for you to see.

The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Look for and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch - the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Many melanomas have these signs and symptoms, but not all. There are different types of melanoma. One type can first appear as a brown or black streak underneath a fingernail or toenail. Melanoma also can look like a bruise that just won't heal.

Visit to learn how to prevent skin cancer, perform a skin self-exam using the "ABCDE" rule, download a body mole map, find a dermatologist (skin doctor) and free skin cancer screenings, or visit the American Cancer Society website at