Do you know your ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer?
Skin Cancer is the #1 most commonly diagnosed form of cancer. To give you an idea of it’s rapidly growing capacity, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that in the U.S. alone nearly 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed a year in 2 million people. 3.5 million! The odds of developing skin cancer are now at a 1 in 5 chance. But as with most things – knowledge is power – and there are steps you can take to catch skin cancer in early stages. While it is the #1 most commonly diagnosed, skin cancer is also the most treatable when caught early. During Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, DLCC wants to make sure you are aware of what to look for when performing a self skin exam between visits to the dermatologist.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
• The most common skin cancer, occurs about 1 million times a year and usually is found on the sun exposed areas of the body.
• Looks like a pearly papule or a red, scaly patch. The lesion is typically persist ant and may bleed.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
• The second most common skin cancer, occurring about 400,000 times each year.
• Generally resembles a crusted, red lesion. It may also present as a fast growing dome shaped nodule.
• Squamous cell carcinoma has a higher likelihood of spreading into the body, especially when it occurs on the head and neck.
• The most deadly of skin cancers.
• This type occurs about 100,000 times per year and is rapidly becoming more prevalent at alarming rates.
Knowing the three main types of skin cancer is key, however knowing how to keep watch over your moles is another step in keeping your skin healthy. Often referred to as the ABCDE’s of Melanoma, these tips can help catch all forms of skin cancer when performed on a regular basis. So how can you tell if a mole is skin cancer? Take note of the following:
(A) Asymmetry – If you drew a line down the middle of the mole, would it have two equal sides? If not, the mole is asymmetrical.
(B) Borders – Normal moles have even borders, suspicious moles have irregular borders (i.e. scalloped, notched or jagged edges).
(C) Color – Irregular color patterns should tip you off right away. Look for red, white, black or brown colors mixed in one mole.
(D) Diameter – Keep track of any moles or lesions which increase in size and diameter. Always alert your dermatologist to these changes.
(E) Evolution – Probably the most important of all, LOOK FOR CHANGE IN ANY CATEGORY! A new mole or moles that show any type of change have a higher chance of being abnormal. If you notice a changing mole, see your dermatologist as soon as possible to have the mole evaluated.
While the incidence of skin cancer relies on your sun exposure and can not necessarily be completely avoided, being aware of the signs and symptoms can help greatly reduce the cancer advancing. Catching melanoma in it’s earliest stages dramatically improves an individual’s survival rates, but it all lies on being aware of what it is going on with your skin. Dermatologists recommend having your skin examined by a board certified dermatologist on a yearly basis. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your skin examined, May is the perfect time to get back on track with Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Help us spread awareness by encouraging friends and loved ones to schedule an exam as well. A simple skin screening can save a life!