What are the early signs of skin cancer? The good news is that skin cancer can usually be treated if it is caught early on. The same thing cannot be said for later stage or malignant melanoma as treatment becomes increasingly difficult. Here is a guide to help you determine if a new mole, growth, or patch is something to be concerned about. Even if you are sure something is harmless if you have any doubts or questions please seek the advice of a medical professional immediately.
Some things to keep in mind?
When you are looking at a mole or growth it is critical that you know your “ABCDEs” so you can make a more informed evaluation.
A stands for asymmetrical, for example if one half of a mole does not match the other since normal moles are symmetrical.
B stands for border so if your mole has a border that is ragged, blurred, or irregular you should see a dermatologist.
C is for color as suspicious moles do not have consistent color and can have shades of tan, brown, black, blue, red, or white in them.
D is for diameter as a mole should be considered suspicious if it is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
E stands for evolving as in shrinking, growing larger, changing color, itching, or bleeding. Melanoma lesions can rapidly grow in size or height which is a telltale sign that something is wrong.
A simply way of spotting a melanoma is the “ugly duckling sign”. Simply put, dangerous moles look different and are “ugly ducklings” compared to regular moles. While normal moles look fairly similar to each other melanoma lesions simply look or feel different plus they change (evolve) while others do not.
Know Your Skin
Before checking yourself for possible melanoma lesions it is imperative that you know your skin. Be aware of what moles and/or marks you already have. This way you can tell more easily if something is changing or if something has developed. A common location for melanoma in men is on the back and for women it is the lower leg. To be on the safe side you should check your body for new or suspicious spots once a month. Some new moles are harmless as they can be caused by hormone surges during puberty, teenage years, pregnancy, and menopause.
The biggest cause of skin cancer is sun exposure and those who face the highest risk have fair skin or light-colored eyes. In fact an estimated 40%-50% of fair-skinned people who live to the age of 65 will develop at least some form of skin cancer. In this case, prevention is the key and it only takes a few simple steps to greatly safeguard yourself against it.
Always wear an SPF of at least 15 for brief daily sun exposure and for prolonged exposure wear at least SPF 30 and a hat. While a lot of people overlook the potential of sun damage to their hands, find a good product for them that also contains a sunscreen. On a final note make sure to select a protect that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
For more tips on keeping your skin healthy, check out our features here.
Have you checked for these early signs of skin cancer?