Early Warning Signs of Skin Cancer
Over the past two years, a concerted effort has been made to educate the public about the dangers of skin cancer. As a result, the number of skin cancer cases that have been caught early on has increased drastically. Additionally, more people are practicing safe sun practices. It is good to remember that while practicing sun safety is important during the summer, it is just as important during the winter. In addition to protecting your skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, sunscreen and hats, it is also important for you to examine your skin from head to toe every single month. These monthly exams are an important part of identifying potential cancers early when they have the highest probability of being cured.
What Am I Looking for?
When doing a self-exam, it is important to know what to look for. You want to spend time looking at your moles and any other growths you have on your skin. If you notice new moles appearing, or if the moles that you already have are growing, changing shape or bleeding, then this could be a warning sign.
Understanding the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
Just about everybody has a brown spot or a mole on their skin. However, if a person has more than 100 moles on their skin, then they are at risk for melanoma. For this reason, it is very important for you to identify the moles that you have and recognize any changes in these moles.
Asymmetry: If a mole is symmetrical, meaning that you could split it down the middle and both sides would match, then it is likely benign. However, if a mole is asymmetrical, then this is a warning sign. Asymmetrical moles are potentially dangerous.
Border: When a mole is benign, it has smooth borders. However, moles that show the early stages of melanoma are often uneven. The borders will have a scalloped or a notched appearance.
Color: When a mole is benign, it usually has the same color. In most cases, it is a light brownish shade. However, if a mole has multiple colors, it is potentially dangerous. Melanoma could have shades of black mixed with brown and tan. In some instances, it will also be blue, red or white.
Diameter: Small moles are usually benign. Malignant ones usually have a large diameter. You should have a mole checked out if it has a diameter that is more than one quarter of an inch. This is approximately the diameter of an eraser on a number two pencil. As a word of caution, some malignant moles may be smaller when they first start to form.
Evolving: When a mole is benign, it looks the same all the time. However, when a mole starts to evolve or to change, either in its size, its elevation or its color, then this is a sign of concern. If a mole develops new symptoms, like it’s itchy or it starts to bleed, then this is also a sign that skin cancer may be developing.
Stay in Touch with the Professionals
Skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to treat if it is caught early. Catching skin cancer early requires diligence and a clear understanding of what to look for. At Dermatology Consultants, our highly qualified board-certified dermatologist can evaluate your skin and determine if you have any suspicious-looking spots. Our medical professionals have extensive experience and training when it comes to skin cancer treatment and prevention. The sooner we are able to diagnose and treat these areas, the better. We have two offices located in Atlanta and Covington. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.