Creative Commons attribution licenseABCDs of skin cancer

Posted July 10, 2012

The summer is here, and the beach is on my mind! I admit, there is little better than feeling the warm sun on my skin. But for this fair-skinned Irish girl, I really have to be careful of how much sun I get -- and to be liberal with a high-SPF sunscreen.

Sun exposure and skin cancer are often talked about together. Though there are different types of skin cancers, melanoma is the aggressive kind. Melanoma is often indicated by irregularities on your skin, such as a change in a mole or other skin growth. Early detection and treatment can prevent complications.

The contents of one of FCHP's helpful wellness flyers provides a guide for what to look for when doing skin checks, as suggested by the American Cancer Society.

Here's an easy way to remember the early signs of skin cancer:

  • A is for Asymmetry. One half or one side of the mole looks very different from the other half or side.
  • B is for Border irregularity. The edges or borders of the mole may turn jagged or scalloped (irregular).
  • C is for Color changes. Colors may turn dark, black or, less often, red, white or blue. A part of the mole may lose color, or the mole may develop a mix of colors. Colors may spread from the edge of a mole to surrounding skin.
  • D is for Diameter. The size of the mole (diameter) may rapidly increase. The mole is usually wider than a pencil eraser (6 mm or 0.24 inches), but may be smaller.

For an illustration of each sign, download this image of irregular moles. (The image includes very close-up pictures, which may be too graphic for some viewers.)  

Awareness of your skin (your largest organ) is a great start in detecting anything serious. Changes should be brought to the attention of your doctor or dermatologist.

Enjoying the sun is healthy and necessary! Avoid skin damage by playing it safe in the sun.  

Photo credit

Blogged by Katie Crommett

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The information written about in this blog is not intended to be medical advice. Please seek care from a medical professional when you have a health concern.