The Most Common Type of Cancer

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Though preventable, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. And the rate of skin cancer is continuing to climb. In fact, the number of people in the United States who have skin cancer is higher than the number of people who have all other types of cancers combined. This May, in honor of skin cancer awareness month, learn how to check for and prevent skin cancer.

ABCDE: May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Know your ABCs

The best rule of thumb for spotting skin cancer is taking note of any new moles, growths, or lesions. To accomplish this, experts recommend performing monthly skin self-exams. Additionally, knowing the ABCDEs of spotting melanoma is extremely important.

A is for asymmetry

In most benign moles, if a person were to draw a line through the center of the mole, the two halves would be equal. In cancerous growths, often the two halves of the mole are uneven.

B is for borders

Noncancerous growths typically have an even, smooth border. Melanomas will often have scalloped or jagged edges. These uneven edges are an early sign of skin cancer.

C is for color

Any mole that is changing color, multi-colored, red, white, or blue should be checked out by a doctor. Healthy moles will likely be an even shade of brown or black.

D is for diameter

Though melanomas can be any size, especially when first detected, cancerous moles typically are larger than the size of a pencil eraser. Any mole that has recently grown larger should be looked at by a healthcare professional.

E is for evolving

This is the key rule of detecting skin cancer. Any time a growth is changing in any way, whether in size, shape, color, itchiness, or in any other way, these changes could be early signs of skin cancer.

Stay safe in the summer sun

One of the biggest causes of skin cancer is inadequate protection from the sun. People should avoid intentional tanning, including tanning in tanning beds. Some other sun protection tips include:

  • Use sunscreen generously. Pick a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every 2 hours.
  • Seek shade when the sun is highest from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Take extra caution around reflective surfaces like water or snow.
  • Focus on getting adequate vitamin D from a healthy diet and possible supplements.

You can prevent skin cancer

Some people are at a higher risk of skin cancer than others. However, regardless of risk, all people can and should take extra measures to prevent skin cancer. Check regularly for new or changing moles, know the ABCs of melanoma, and take extra steps to stay safe in the sun. Though skin cancer is common, skin cancer is preventable.