One of five people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. May is Melanoma Awareness month and this might hit home for several people as they or a loved one suffered from this deadly skin cancer. According to the AIM at Melanoma Foundation, “In 2021, an estimated 207,390 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States. Of those, 101,280 cases will be in situ (noninvasive), confined to the top layer of skin (the epidermis), and 106,110 cases will be invasive, penetrating the epidermis into the skin’s second layer (the dermis). Of the invasive cases, 62,260 will be men and 43,85 will be women.”
The two leading causes of skin cancer are the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) ray and tanning beds. Say no to those troublesome tanning beds, and yes to broad-spectrum sunscreens daily! You can take extra precautions by wearing protective eyewear and even a hat! Unlike sunscreen, if a person wears protective clothing (longer sleeves, and pants, etc.) he or she won’t need to worry about having to reapply. Some clothing manufacturers have started to make a “sun protective” label. This is indicated on clothing with the label UPF. Look for this the next time you are out shopping!
Knowledge is your best defense against melanoma. With the knowledge on how to properly perform self-exams you can become more confident in your skin health. It’s important for you to be educated on some of these pre-cancer/cancer warning signs, so that you are able to take action, make decisions, and find professional help if needed.
The ABC’s of skin cancer have proven to be of great value to many individuals around the world! They can be used as a guide to the warning signs of atypical moles and melanoma.
The letter “A” is for asymmetrical. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
The letter “B” is for border. Borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Normal appearing moles tend to have more smoother, or even borders.
The letter “C” is for color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan, or even black in some cases. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.
The letter “D” is for diameter and darkness. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it’s smaller, if the lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) it could be a warning sign. Some experts also advice to look for any lesion, or mole, no matter what size, that appears to be darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
The letter “E” is for evolving. Any change in size, shape, color, or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching, crusting, may be a warning sign to see your doctor.
These are some helpful observations you can make, but if in doubt do not hesitate to get it checked out. Your dermatologist will determine whether your pigmented lesion is an atypical mole or a melanoma, and provide you with detailed information about your next steps. It’s time to take action now, to minimize your risk of getting skin cancer and be sure to share this information with your loved ones. Knowledge is the best defense against skin cancer. A little SPF wouldn’t hurt either!