Certain types of skin cancer can be deadly if not caught and treated early. The types of skin cancer include melanoma, which is very dangerous, and life threatening, as well as basil cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Often the cause of these cancers is the result of over exposure to the sun from working outside or tanning.
Anyone over the age 30 should perform regular skin exams, as well as visit a qualified dermatologist at least once a year for a full body skin cancer screening. In the event that the patient has a history of abnormal or “dysplastic moles”, the exams should be more frequent. In addition, it is recommended that if a mole changes in any way or is irregular, the patient should immediately see their dermatologist to have it examined.
The thing that the patient should be looking for during the self-check is the same thing the dermatologist is looking for during a full body skin exam, which is the ABCD’s of moles and skin cancers. This stands for Asymmetry, Border, Color and Diameter. In asymmetry imagine that the lesion could be folded in half. If the two halves would not match, then the mole is suspicious and should be examined by a dermatologist.
In borders, any mole with uneven or blurred borders is suspicious and should be examined by a dermatologist. In color, any mole that has tan, brown, black, red, blue or white is suspicious and should be examined by a qualified dermatologist. In diameter, any mole greater than the size of a pencil eraser is suspicious and should be examined by a dermatologist. In addition, a patient should be suspicious if a mole bleeds or itches or changes.
Although everyone is busy, every one should do a regular skin self-exam and see a qualified dermatologist on a regular basis. In the meantime remember your ABCDs!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jodi E. Ganz, Olansky Dermatology Associates
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