DETECTING SKIN CANCER
Posted on August 15 2022
Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. If you know what to look for, you can detect early warning signs of skin cancer. Finding it early, when it is small and has not spread, makes skin cancer easier to treat.
Some doctors and other health professionals include skin exams as part of routine medical checkups. Many doctors also recommend that you examine your own skin about once a month. Examine your skin in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand mirror to examine areas that are difficult to see.
Use the "ABCDE rule" to look for some of the common signs of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer:
- One part of a mole or birthmark (angioma) is not equal to the other. Mole showing asymmetry, border irregularity, and color.
- Borders are irregular, uneven, ridged, or blurred. Mole showing asymmetry, border irregularity, and color.
- The color is not the same everywhere and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with areas of pink, red, white, or blue.
The mole is larger than ¼ inch (0.6 cm) across (about the size of a pencil eraser) although sometimes melanomas may be smaller than this size.
The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
If you check yourself and find signs of skin cancer during a self-exam, your health care professional should check you again. Signs vary depending on the type of skin cancer, but some of them are:
- Changes in a mole or spot.
- A mole or other spot on the skin that oozes, bleeds, or crusts over
- A mole that hurts to touch
- A lesion that does not heal after two weeks
- A bright pink, red, red, pearly white, or clear bump
- A mole or lesion with irregular borders that bleeds easily
Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas or cancers generally grow in areas most exposed to the sun, such as the face, head, neck, and arms. However, they can appear anywhere. The skin cancer test is risk-free. If a mole or other spot on the skin appears to be a sign of cancer, the health care professional will probably order another test called a skin biopsy to make a diagnosis. A skin biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of skin is removed for testing. The sample is examined under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, treatment can begin. If the cancer is found and treated early, you may be able to prevent it from spreading.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun is a major cause of skin cancer. We are exposed to these rays whenever we are in the sun, not just when we go to the beach or a swimming pool. But sun exposure can be limited, and the risk of skin cancer can be reduced by taking some simple precautions when outdoors, for example:
- Use a sunscreen or sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
- Try to stay in the shade whenever possible.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses
Sunbathing also increases the risk of skin cancer. Avoid sunbathing outdoors and never use a tanning bed (tanning salon). No level of exposure is safe in tanning beds, sunlamps, or other artificial devices.
If you have questions about how to reduce your risk of skin cancer, consult your doctor or health care professional.
You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live. Live your life by your own terms, not cancer's.
— Stuart Scott.