Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer–each year, more than 3.5 million cases are diagnosed in the United States. Early detection is key to improving the chance of successful treatment. Know the ABCDEs of early detection. A physician should check areas on your skin that have:
- Asymmetry: If you draw a line through a mole and the two halves do not match, you should consult a doctor.
- Border: The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
- Color: Having a variety of colors is another warning sign. A number of different shades of brown, tan, or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, blue, or some other color.
- Diameter: Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of a pencil eraser (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but sometimes may be smaller when first detected.
- Evolving: Any change—in size, shape, color, elevation, or other trait, as well as any new bleeding, itching, or crusting—points to danger.
90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. The good news is you can help prevent skin cancer by protecting yourself from UV exposure. Try these tips from the CDC:
- Stay in the shade, and avoid being in direct sunlight for long periods of time, especially during midday.
- Protect your skin with clothing, including hats, long sleeved shirts, pants, or long skirts.
- Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
- Wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Avoid indoor tanning.