ABCDE's of Skin Cancer - is it a mole or skin cancer?

ABCDE's of Skin Cancer - is it a mole or skin cancer?

Summer is here, and many of us are already craving getting some quality time with the sunshine. Before we took on those 9-5 desk jobs, the majority of our exposure to the sun happened during childhood and adolescence. Chances are at one time or another we have all experienced the effects of too much sun, often resulting in a bad sunburn. The physical pain of a sunburn may only be felt for a few days, but it is the long-term effects that are the cause for concern. Over time, continued exposure to UV light may result in out-of-control, abnormal skin growth ultimately leading to skin cancer. 

Skin cancer is one of the most common yet preventable types of cancer. The three main types of skin cancer are – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. No matter the color or your skin, where you live or how much time you spend in the sun you are at risk for skin cancer. Skin cancer can develop on any area of your body, a few common areas include your forehead, scalp, eyelids, lips, neck and back. 

When skin cancer is caught early it is easier to treat, making self, peer and dermatologist checks important. One common framework to evaluate your skin is to follow ABCDE’s of skin cancer:  

A is for asymmetry
One half of the mole does not match the other half
B is for border
Irregular, blurred or ragged edges
C is for colors
Variety of colors black, brown or tan, may include patches of pink, white or red
D is diameter
Size of the mole is greater than pencil eraser
E is for evolving
Change in size, shape, color or elevation of the mole

Go for regular doctor visits and dermatologist reviews, especially if any moles are suspicious. Be sun smart. Enjoy the outdoors but never go out into the sun unprotected. Wear a hat, cover up as much as possible, seek shade especially during the midday hours, and always wear (mineral) sunscreen. 

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