Skin cancer is a prevalent and potentially life-threatening condition, but early detection can greatly improve the chances of a successful outcome. Regular self-examination of the skin and professional skin exams by a doctor are key to detecting skin cancer in its early stages.
Self-examination of the skin should be done regularly, at least once a month, to check for any changes in the appearance of moles or other skin growths. When examining your skin, look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other.
- Border: The border of the mole is irregular or blurry.
- Color: The color of the mole is not uniform, with shades of black, brown, and other colors.
- Diameter: The diameter of the mole is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolution: The mole changes in shape, size, or color over time.
If you notice any of these signs, or if you have a mole that is growing, itching, or bleeding, it is important to see a doctor right away. Your doctor will be able to determine if a biopsy is needed to determine if the growth is cancerous.
In addition to self-examination, it is also important to schedule regular skin exams with a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating skin conditions, including skin cancer. During a skin exam, the dermatologist will examine your skin thoroughly, looking for any signs of skin cancer. They may also take a biopsy if they suspect a growth is cancerous.