May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and with skin cancer being the most common type of cancer, it pays to know what the early warning signs look like. Here are three things you should look for during a self-examination.
One of the first places you need to look for abnormalities is your moles. While skin cancer can take many shapes and forms, it often manifests in moles or mole-like growths on your skin. Just as your doctor would do during a skin cancer screening, it's important for you to follow the ABCDE rule when it comes to looking for unusual moles on your skin. If you're not sure what the ABCDE rule is, we have the basics listed here.
Asymmetrical - A normal mole is typically symmetrical. If you notice a mole that has an odd shape or that isn't symmetrical, it could be a sign of abnormal cell growth.
Border - Moles with blurred or jagged borders should be examined closely for cancerous tissue.
Color - Moles on your body should all be about the same color. Any unusual or inconsistent coloring like red, blue, or white should be looked at by your doctor.
Diameter - If there's a mole on your body that's significantly larger than the rest, it may be indicative of abnormal cell growth.
Evolving - Any consistent changes in size, color, or texture in your moles should be looked at by your doctor.
It might seem like a lot to remember, but this simple tool can help you identify a number of irregularities during a self exam. When you understand that, you can more readily make an appointment with your doctor for a formal screening.
New skin features are perhaps the most telling signs of abnormal cell growth. For example, say you've had a mole on the back of your hand your whole life. Out of nowhere one day you notice a new mark on your skin next to it. It might look like a new mole or a small growth. Different types of skin cancer can manifest in different ways on your skin. You may notice a pearly, white bump or a red, scaly patch that oozes fluid or pus. The important thing to note is whether this new feature on your skin goes away or changes over the course of a few days or weeks. You may not need to make an appointment with your doctor the moment you notice a change in your skin, but if that new feature continues to grow or evolve in any way, it's time to schedule a skin cancer screening.
You may have birthmarks or cysts on your skin already. It happens! And skin features that stay consistent typically aren't too much cause for worry. But if you notice a skin feature starting to change in size, color, texture, or shape, it's probably time to go in for a skin cancer screening. Sudden and consistent changes are typically signs of abnormal cell growth. Whether that growth is cancerous or not, seeing your doctor about it is an important safety measure to take.
Preventive screenings are effective at identifying early signs of skin cancer if you understand what you should be looking for. If you have questions about abnormalities on your skin or want to set up a skin cancer screening, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.