Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. Incredible is the fact, it is estimated that one out of seven people in the United States is diagnosed with skin cancer each year. According to the American Cancer Society, each year, more than 5.4 million basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed, Sun exposure is the major culprit. This blog is not about prevention, but I do want to remind you, it is easy enough to prevent sun damage to your skin. SPF greater than 30 (learn about sunblocks) applied after water exposure, with sweating along with a 3 inch brimmed head covering will protect you.
Skin cancer risk factors, you know many of them. Yes, fair skin, excessive exposure to the sun, and tanning beds will do it. But you need to realize a history of sunburn, fair skin, and family history are also risk factors.
Folks most likely to promote skin cancer are individuals with fair skin, blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes, a history of sun exposure, or a tendency to burn or freckle when exposed to the sun. Those who have a family history of skin cancer are also at increased risk. People with dark skin, myself included, can develop skin cancer
Squamous and basal cell skin cancers are the most common types. Melanoma, another less common type of skin cancer is a more serious type of skin cancer as it is more invasive.
In this short blog, I want to give you some clues so you can perform once a monthly a self-check of your skin. In a well-lit private place with a large wall mirror, you may find changes in the way your skin looks or feels. Use a hand mirror to check for anything new on your skin, discoloration, a new mole, or changes to a mole you already have. Don’t forget to check your scalp and between your toes.
Take a picture with your phone if you are concerned. This is important in case you think it is a pimple and watch if it changes. Below I will share well-known clues to suspecting abnormal skin lesions. Keep track of any changes you may see, and tell or email your doctor. Dermatologists are best at examining and recognizing skin lesions. Also, they can treat them with the latest removal techniques. The Mohs surgery to remove lesions has a cure rate exceeds 99 percent for new skin cancers and 95 percent for recurrent skin cancers
The ABCDE’s of suspicious skin lesions
- A – Asymmetry: One half does not look like the other half
- B – Border: Edges are irregular, uneven, or ragged; margins fade into the skin around the lesion.
- C – Color: Uneven color or varying shades; shades of black, brown, and tan can be present; also areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue
- D – Diameter: The size of the lesion, spot or mole can be very small or bigger than pea size (one-fourth of an inch) or larger
- E – Evolving: All of the above characteristics change over time making it suspicious for cancer
If you have a lesion or any skin change, find out if it is concerning by seeing a trained medical provider. Timely diagnosis and removal, if it is suspicious, is very important.