In case you didn’t know, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month — and it is the perfect time of year for it. As people begin to spend more time outside and make plans to soak in the sun on their next summer getaway, it is important to remind people about the risk that comes with too much sun exposure.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting approximately one in five Americans in their lifetime. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
The biggest issue when it comes to skin cancer is the lack of awareness or being unable to recognize the warning signs. When people are unsure of what to look for or don’t have annual skin screenings scheduled with a board-certified dermatologist, that’s when they can get into trouble. When skin cancers are diagnosed early, they are easier to treat and have better outcomes.
To help catch skin cancer early, you need to know your ABCDE’s:
A – Asymmetrical
If you were to draw a line through the middle of your mole, would both sides be symmetrical? If the answer is ‘no,’ then this may be a warning sign for melanoma.
B – Border
The border of a malignant mole tends to have uneven borders, whereas a benign mole typically has smooth, even borders. If you have a mole with a scalloped or jagged border, it may be a sign of melanoma.
Most benign moles typically are just one color. If your mole has a variety of shades of brown, tan or black, it may be a sign of melanoma.
Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas are usually larger, but they may be smaller when they are first detected.
E – Evolving
Be on the alert if your mole starts to change in size, shape, color, elevation, or any new symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting. All of these are signs of potential melanoma.
Once you know what signs to look for, it is important to take preventative measures by wearing sunscreen, seeking the shade as often as possible and covering up your skin when you’re outdoors for an extended period of time. Remembering to protect your skin on a daily basis will help decrease your risk for skin cancer.
Most importantly, you should have annual skin screenings with a board-certified dermatologist. This is especially important if there is a history of skin cancer in your family. You are at a much greater risk of developing skin cancer if someone in your family has had skin cancer.
Want to be proactive in warding off skin cancer? Stop by our office for a skin screening or consultation with one of our board-certified dermatologists today!