Since skin cancers are visible on the skin, they are easier to detect early than other cancers. All people, especially those with risk factors for skin cancer, should check their skin monthly for warning signs of skin cancer. This skin self-exam can be done with the aid of a mirror and/or a partner. Adults over the age of 40, especially those with risk factors for skin cancer, should see a dermatologist or other health professional for a full body skin exam every year.
It is important to know your own skin and be aware of any changes in moles or the new appearance of a mole. To help with this, a tool known as the ABCDE’s of Melanoma, has been developed.
- A – Asymmetry: one half not exactly like the other
- B – Border: irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined
- C – Color: various colors in the same mole
- D – Diameter: larger than a pencil eraser (6 mm)
- E - Evolving: any change in a mole that is worrisome
A normal mole is pictured to the right. Compare it to those illustrating the ABCD’s of Melanoma. Remember that “E” stands for evolving, or changing.
The key to preventing death from melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is to diagnose it at an early stage. It then can be surgically treated, resulting in a higher cure rate.
Remember that in addition to performing monthly skin self-exam, people over the age of 40 should visit a dermatologist or other health professional every year to have a skin exam.
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