What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

what-does-skin-cancer-look-likeAside from avoiding overexposure to the sun, the best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to maintain regular skin cancer screenings. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone receive a skin cancer screening once a year, although it is often recommended that high-risk patients be seen more frequently. In the year following skin cancer treatment, some patients are even recommended to see their dermatologist every 3-4 months.

Performing regular skin cancer self-examinations can be helpful, as well. You should watch for any suspicious lesions on the skin, such as a sore that doesn’t heal. If you have a spot that scabs and crusts over, but the sore is still there after the scab falls off, it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible. A funny-looking or irregularly-shaped mole is also something to watch for – a mole with a jagged, notched or uneven border, spots with more than one color, and lesions that are bigger than a pencil eraser (6mm) should all be considered warning signs. Essentially, we recommend that patients monitor their skin for anything that is changing. If you start noticing a spot that you never noticed before, or if something is growing, bleeding, or itching, get it checked out.

To help you remember what to look for, simply follow the ABCDE’s of melanoma:

A – Asymmetry: any spots that are not symmetrical in shape
B – Border: the border of a mole is uneven, notched, or scalloped
C – Color: a spot that contains various colors
D – Diameter: most melanomas are larger in diameter than that of a pencil eraser (¼ inch, or 6mm)
E – Evolving: any changes in shape, size, color, or elevation. New symptoms such as itching or bleeding are also warning signs

If you have any questions about what to be aware of during a self-examination, or if you would like to schedule a free skin cancer screening with Dr. Adam Mamelak or Dr. Miriam Hanson, please contact Sanova Dermatology today.

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