Catch Skin Cancer Early

Read Time: 3 minutes

Every year, more than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. But skin cancer is preventable. When detected early, skin cancer is much easier to treat. But how does a person detect skin cancer? Experts have outlined some simple guidelines for detecting skin cancer and preventing complication.

How To Detect Skin Cancer

A birthday check for your birthday suit

Most doctors recommend performing a monthly self-check for skin cancer. Additionally, a dermatologist should check for skin cancer on a yearly basis. Many experts advise thinking of the yearly skin check like a birthday present for a person’s birthday suit.

To perform a skin check at home, find a well-lit room with a full-length mirror. Examine skin for any new moles or growths as well as for any changes in current moles or growths. Make sure to look at less common places like elbows and soles of feet. People with fair skin or many freckles are at a higher risk for skin cancer and will want to take extra care to check for new freckles or moles.

Know the ABCs of skin cancer

One of the most important elements of detecting skin cancer is knowing the ABCDEs of melanoma. The ABCDEs stand for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. If a mole is uneven in size, shape, or border, this is a warning sign for skin cancer. Additionally, moles that are larger than the size of a pencil eraser or are growing in size could be signs of skin cancer.

What does skin cancer look like?

Most people think of moles when they think of skin cancer. But skin cancer can also look like changing birthmarks, beauty marks, or brown spots. Skin cancer can look like an open sore that won’t heal, a mole that oozes or itches, or a translucent skin growth.

About 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are related to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. This is a large group of skin cancers that are highly preventable. The biggest way to prevent skin cancer is to take protective measures against the sun. This includes using sunscreen, staying in the shade, and avoiding tanning.

Skin cancer can be silent

Skin cancer can develop in hard-to-detect places like between toes, under the fingernails, or even inside the mouth. Though sometimes cancerous growths will itch or hurt, someone can have skin cancer and feel completely fine. Because of this, checking for skin cancer regularly is extremely important. Any time a person notices any skin abnormalities, experts recommend scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist.