First step: Get to know your own skin markings, doctor says
WEDNESDAY, June 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- With skin cancer the most common type of cancer in the United States, you should learn to spot its early signs, a cancer doctor says.
"Early detection is key. When detected early, most skin cancers may be effectively treated and are often curable," said Dr. Jeffrey Farma, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
"Individuals play an important role in early detection," Farma said in a center news release. "By being familiar with your own skin markings, like moles, freckles and blemishes, you're likely to notice any changes."
His recommendation: Have your skin checked yearly by a physician or dermatologist, and check your own skin for signs of skin cancer by using a mirror every month.
Using the ABCDE rule of skin cancer can help identify potential problems, including the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, he said.
A for Asymmetry. Melanoma lesions are often not symmetrical in shape, while benign moles are usually symmetrical.
B for Border. Benign moles usually have smooth, even borders, while melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are difficult to define.
C for Color. A mole with more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Benign moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.
D for Diameter. Melanoma lesions are often more than 6 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser.
E for Evolution. The evolution of your moles is important. Knowing what is normal for you could save your life.
"If a mole or marking has gone through recent changes in color and/or size, bring it to the attention of your doctor immediately so he or she can determine the cause," Farma said. "Remember that skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, no matter what their complexion."
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on checking for skin cancer.