Even if you regularly practice sun safety, it’s crucial to be vigilant about the health of your skin all year round, not just in the summer months. You don’t have to be older or have fair skin to take regularly examine your skin from head-to-toe in search of any irregularities. These regular self-exams are so important in first spotting any suspicious spots, lesions or other areas of concern that may show up anywhere on your body. Early detection is key to preventing full-blown skin cancer and to keep it from spreading.
The first step in regular self-examinations is to know what you’re looking for. For basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas or melanomas, you’re looking for new growths, new moles or changes in existing moles. Any lesions that bleed, itch, don’t heal, or change their shape are red flags. By following the “ABCDs” of skin cancer self-screening, you’ll know what to look for:
A is for Asymmetry
If you were to draw a line down the middle of a mole, both sides should pretty evenly match in size and shape. If the two sides do not match and the mole is asymmetrical, this could be an early warning sign of developing melanoma.
B is for Border
A benign mole is one with an even, smooth border, but melanomas have uneven, notched and/or scalloped borders and edges. Check the border of your mole to see if its borders are even or rough in both shape and texture.
C is for Color
Benign moles are typically one color throughout, generally a shade of brown. A variety of colors in one mole are another warning signal of a melanoma which may be various shades of brown or even white, blueish, tan or red.
D is for Diameter
Benign moles tend to be smaller in diameter than malignant moles. Melanomas are generally larger in diameter than an eraser tip, but they may start out smaller when they are first spotted.
E is for Evolving
Recently a letter “E” for “evolving” has been added to the skin cancer ABCD list of things to look out for. Common moles which are not cancerous in nature will look the same over time. If a mole begins to evolve in any way, be it size, shape, color, elevation, begins to itch or bleed or crust, these are signs of danger. An evolving mole is one which should be examined by a dermatologist.
If you’re looking for St. Louis dermatologists and cancer care and want to have your suspicious moles checked out, contact us to get screened as soon as possible. Dr. Wright is an experienced St. Louis dermatologist trained to spot cancerous and pre-cancerous moles in his patients.