Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? Fortunately, skin cancer screenings can help detect signs of cancer early on. But how soon can a preventive screening detect those early signs?
A skin cancer screening is a visual examination of the skin. While you can perform a self-examination at home, it's typically better to have a skin cancer screening done by your doctor or dermatologist. During a skin cancer screening, your doctor will examine your skin very closely. They'll be looking at moles, birthmarks, and any abnormalities that may be present on your skin. They'll also look closely at the skin on your hands, feet, and even between your fingers and toes. Skin cancer can hide in unlikely places, which means the purpose of a skin cancer screening is to be as thorough as possible when searching for skin abnormalities.
While a skin cancer screening can alert you and your doctor to signs of skin cancer, it's not meant to serve as a means for skin cancer diagnosis. Rather, it can help you find indicators that may benefit from further testing. Here are some of the most common (and earliest) signs of skin cancer that a screening can help detect.
Asymmetry: A mole that has an odd shape or that is asymmetrical is one of the most common early signs of skin cancer. And when you invest in a skin cancer screening, it's also one of the most visible. This could be an early sign of basal or squamous cell carcinoma. When your doctor finds a mole like this, they may perform a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.
Border: A blurred or difficult to define border on a mole is another abnormality a skin cancer screening will look for. In the vast majority of cases, a mole with a well-defined and smooth border is nothing to worry about. Blurred or jagged borders, on the other hand, can be early signs of cancer.
Color: When a mole is an unusual color (red, blue, black, etc.) and stands out from the other moles on your skin, it could be a sign of skin cancer. This is especially important to look out for if you have one or more moles that have recently changed color or that have uneven color throughout.
Diameter: While there are large, benign moles out there, the vast majority of them are present from birth. If you notice a mole that is significantly larger than the other moles on your skin, you could be looking at cancerous tissue.
Evolution: Evolving moles are one of the most important telltale signs of skin cancer. A mole that has changed in size, shape, texture, or color needs to be looked at right away.
Knowing the early signs of skin cancer can help you stay proactive and get the right treatment if you need it. Skin cancer screenings are an excellent tool to help you identify early signs of skin cancer, as well. If you have questions or want to set up a skin cancer screening, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.