Skin cancer prevention is a priority for everyone. By checking your skin regularly for abnormalities, you can detect skin cancer in the early stages. If you have numerous moles and/or freckles, your doctor can perform yearly cancer screening examinations.
Follow the ABCDE’s of self-examination:
Check moles or freckles for any abnormal appearance. They should be symmetrical in size. If you would draw a line through the mole or freckle, both sides would be the same size and look alike. Skin cancer is not symmetrical.
Check the mole/freckle for irregular borders or uneven edges.
Normal moles/freckles are one color. Check for changing colors or multi-colored areas in your moles or freckles.
Check the diameter of the mole; a mole larger than a pencil eraser is abnormal and needs to be examined by a doctor.
It is not normal for a mole/freckle to be lumpy, uneven or raised above the surface of the skin.
Skin cancer can affect anyone. It is an abnormal growth of skin cells. If you have any of the above signs for a mole or freckle, contact your doctor or dermatologist immediately.
The most common cause of skin cancer is exposure to the sun. Most skin cancers are the result of tanning with baby oil or tanning beds in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
One in five Americans will get skin cancer. Your age, race or skin color does not matter; we are all at risk. Recent studies have linked smoking and tobacco use to skin cancer in women. The risk for skin cancer is higher for Caucasians than for African Americans or Hispanics. Anyone, anywhere, can get skin cancer.
Prevention is a key to not getting skin cancer. If you have had skin cancer in the past or have a family history, it is imperative to take extra precaution to protect yourself in the sun. There are UVA (long) and UVB (short) rays from the sun. Both rays can cause basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Using sunblock with a SPF-30 or higher will provide protection. Other methods are wearing a hat, long-sleeved shirt or a cover-up to protect exposed areas of your body.
Sun exposure also creates actinic keratosis which is a precancerous condition.