Although skin cancer is one of the most visible kinds of cancer, it’s also the most common in the United States. Around one in five people will develop skin cancer over the course of their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology which recommends regular self-examination of moles and checkups with your dermatologist in Farmington Hills, MI. The best way to avoid skin cancer is to catch it while it’s early and treatable, so here are some things to look for— you can remember it as ‘ABCDE’:
There are many different types of moles, but they most commonly appear symmetrical and rounded. One sign of cancerous activity, then, is if the mole becomes asymmetrical in things like color, size or shape. This is generally a sign that the skin cells are changing in problematic ways.
Moles will generally have a round, defined border that separates it from the rest of the skin. If it’s bumpy, irregular in shape, or difficult to discern from the skin color around it, that may be a sign that it’s experiencing some kind of growth from its natural shape.
While most moles are brownish, they can come in many different colors. You should be concerned, though, if the color is blotchy or changes from one area to another. A healthy mole will have a uniform color, but a different-colored area can be an indicator that irregular skin cells have become active.
This indicator can be much more difficult to discern, because healthy and unhealthy moles don’t necessarily come in one size. However, melanomas are generally greater than 6mm— or the size of a standard eraser at the end of a pencil— but aren’t to be confused with atypical moles which can be large and similar to melanomas. Regular checkups with your dermatologist are the best way to keep an eye on your atypical moles and determine if you’re at risk.
This is one of the most important things to look out for during your self-examinations, as this can be the biggest indicator of unwanted activity. If your mole begins to change over time in any of the above categories, you’ll want to be sure and have them checked by your dermatologist. Be sure to take note of how it has changed and over what timeframe so that your dermatologist can better determine what’s occurring.
These categories, along with regular, effective skin protection, can help you avoid the most common and most preventable type of cancer. To learn more or schedule a screening with Dr. Baird, contact our office in Farmington.