What to look for: the ABCDEs
In general, everyone should have annual skin exams (or more often if new, concerning lesions develop)—especially people who have had basal cell cancer before. The American Cancer Society recommends
that you visit your dermatologist if you notice any of these skin changes:
One half of the mole or skin growth doesn't match the other half.
The edges are irregular, ragged or blurred.
The shade isn't uniform. Shades of tan, brown and black are present. Dashes of red, white and blue add to the mottled appearance. Changes in color distribution, especially the spread of color from the edge of a mole into the surrounding skin, are also an early sign of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The mole or skin growth is larger than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser). Any growth of a mole should be of concern.
A mole or skin lesion that looks different from others or that is changing in size, shape or color should be examined.
Images provided by The Skin Cancer Foundation. For more information, visit www.skincancer.org
Prevention is key
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to reduce your exposure to sunlight:
- Ultraviolet light is most intense at midday, so avoid sun exposure during these hours. Protect your skin by wearing hats, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts or pants.
- Always use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Look for sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB light. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it frequently. Use sunscreen in the winter months, too.
- Check your skin regularly for any suspicious growths or changes.