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The ABCs of Skin Cancer

The ABCs of Skin Cancer

Focusing on skin care and preventing sun damage is something that we should be doing all year long, but the summer months quickly remind us just how damaging the sun can be. Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. DNA damage is most often caused by ultraviolet radiation found in tanning beds and sunlight. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated each year in the United States with one in five Americans developing skin cancer during their lifetime. With such a high incidence rate, it’s more important than ever to be able to identify the signs of skin cancer.

You should examine your skin head to toe once a month looking for any major changes or new growths. Moles, spots, existing growths that have changed, lesions that itch, bleed or won’t heal can be cause for alarm. In order to remember what to look for remember the ABCDEs of melanoma.

A – Asymmetry

This refers to the shape of your mole. If you draw a line through the middle of the mole and the two sides match, the mole is symmetrical. If the two halves do not match, it is asymmetrical and a melanoma warning sign.

B – Border

A benign, cancer free mole will have smooth edges. The border around an early stage melanoma is more likely to be jagged, notched or uneven.

C – Color

Benign growths tend to be a single shade, while multiple shades or a change in color can signal a melanoma.

D – Diameter

Benign moles are typically smaller than malignant ones. If you have mole or growth with a diameter greater than a pencil eraser it’s a good idea to visit your Rodgers Health provider.

E – Evolving

Look for any changes in your moles. Any sign that the mole is evolving or changing, whether it’s a change in color, shape or size, an “evolving” mole is another sign it’s time to have to have the spot examined by a medical professional.

Many skin cancers are easily treatable and easily preventable. In addition to wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, it’s also beneficial to avoid tanning and tanning beds, use sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and try to avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm.

To learn more about skin cancer and self-examinations make an appointment at Rodgers Health by calling 816-307-0152 or request an appointment online!