Could you recognize skin cancer if you saw it? Skin cancer is on the rise and it’s important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms. The first step is to get an overall baseline of your skin. Explore all of the areas of your skin and pay attention to the bumps, moles, and freckles. You might get someone to help you or meet a dermatologist. Once you have a baseline, it’s time to learn your ABCDE’s.
A – Asymmetry – Take a look at your moles and any discolored patches. If you drew a line down the middle, would both sides be the same? If not, that’s a sign that the mole is asymmetrical. Skin cancers are typically asymmetrical and this could be a sign.
B – Border – What does the border of the mole look like? Is it even or jagged or scalloped? Even borders are ideal. If the border is uneven then that’s a sign it may be cancer.
C – Color – What color is the skin in the affected area? Is it one color or many colors? One solid brown color is great. If it is many different brown or black colors then that’s a sign of cancer. Melanomas can also be red or blue.
D – Diameter – Is the mole or affected area larger than the head of a pencil eraser? Melanomas are generally larger in diameter than the size of an eraser, which is generally about 1/4 inch.
E – Evolving – Is the mole changing? Is it growing, changing color, becoming raised, or is the skin around the mole changing? Sometimes E stands for elevation which means the area of skin is rising. It may change from a flat discoloration to a bump or it may change so that it contains several smaller bumps that are clumped together. This type of change in your skin isn’t normal.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to go to the doctor to have your skin examined. In the vast majority of cases when skin cancer is caught early, it can be taken be treated.