I’m not fully sure you have a clear understanding of what the ABCs of skin cancer are. The ABCs of skin cancer is actually a list of things to check for when looking at potential cancer spots (such as skin moles). The proper list is the ABCDs of skin cancer.
The ABCDs of Skin Cancer
- Asymmetry: Look at both halves of the mole. Do they match one another? If not, this could be a warning sign.
- Border Irregularity: Are the mole borders irregular, ragged, blurred or notched?
- Color: Is the mole multiple shades?
- Diameter: Is the diameter of the mole larger than ¼ of an inch? This would be about the size of a pencil eraser. This isn’t a definite sign, because some doctors have discovered smaller melanomas.
If detected early, most skin cancers are successfully treated. If you notice any of these things, you should make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
It is important to remember that sun safety isn’t just for the summer. It needs to be practiced all year round, even if you live in a colder climate. Examine your skin from head to toe at least once a month every month. A self-exam can help you identify potential skin cancer early and ensure that you get the treatment you need to be cured.
The ABCDs of skin cancer is an important list, because you need to know what you are looking for when doing a self-exam. In general, new moles or growths, as well as changes to existing growths, should be taken seriously. These could be either melanomas or non-melanoma skin cancers. You should also consider lesions that change, itch, bleed or don’t seem to be healing* as a sign of alarm. Melanoma is the deadliest form of cancer, so it is vital to catch it as early as possible. There are two strategies for recognizing melanoma: the ABCDEs and the Ugly Duckling sign.
For the ABCDE list, the list as the same as above, but Evolving is added to the list. Evolving involves any change in size, shape, color, elevation or new symptoms, such as bleeding, itching or crusting.
Other things to look for are spots that form scabs, re-scab and fail to heal. Look for scaly, skin thickening in a particular area (usually develops on the face and hands). Pearly or waxy growths can also be dangerous. Finally, if you have a sore, blister, patch, pimple or other blemish that does not show signs of healing* within two to three weeks, you should show it to your doctor immediately.
According to the National Cancer Institute, anyone can develop skin cancer at any age. It is, however, more common in people with light (fair) skin, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get it if you’re not fair-skinned. The reason darker skinned people aren’t as susceptible to skin cancer is because they don’t burn as easily, but again, everyone is at risk for skin cancer.
Here are Some Other Tips
- Speak with your doctor if you see any unusual changes with your skin, especially if these changes do not go away within a month.
- Be sure to check your entire body for unusual occurrences monthly.
- Look for new or changing moles.
- Look for changes of appearance in old growth on skin or scars, particularly burn scars.
- Look for patches of skin that are different colors from the rest of the skin surface.
- Be on the lookout for sores that don’t want to heal.
- Look for a dark band on your fingernails. If you do see dark bands and they begin to spread, see your doctor immediately.
- Always remember that early detection usually means successful treatment.
Certain medications and skin conditions can make your skin more sensitive to sun damage. Medicines or diseases that suppress* the immune system, such as HIV, can also put you at higher risk for developing cancer. Scars and skin ulcers also increase* your risk. You are also at an increased risk if you’ve been exposed to high levels of arsenic (found in well water and pesticides).