Know Your ABCDEs

Make sure you know the early detection signs of skin cancer.

Jun 18, 2020

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. There are three types of skin cancer — basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma only accounts for 1% of all skin cancers, but it is responsible for most deaths related to skin cancer. However, all three types are treatable when detected early.

Changes in your skin are often the first sign; it may appear on the skin suddenly or develop on an already existing mole. If you notice something new or a change in your skin, you should consult with your doctor or dermatologist.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if you notice a mole on your skin, you should follow the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:
  • Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
  • Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
  • Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Different shades of tan, brown or black are often present. Dashes of red, white, and blue can add to the mottled appearance.
  • Diameter: While melanomas are usually larger than 6mm in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • Evolving: The mole or skin lesion looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
The main cause for these types of skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. According to the CDC, the three types of UV rays are ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC):
  • UVA rays reach deep into human skin and damage connective tissue and skin’s DNA.
  • UVB rays help produce vitamin D and don’t reach as far into the skin, but they still cause sunburn and damage DNA.
  • UVC rays are very dangerous, but are absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth’s surface.
Protecting yourself from UV radiation is the best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Stay in the shade and apply sunscreen — even when it’s cloudy and reapply every 2 hours. Last, wear protective clothing like a hat, sunglasses, and clothing that covers your skin or has UV protection in the material.

To learn more about skin cancer, symptoms or to find a doctor, go to ssmhealth.com/cancer/skin-cancer.

Source: American Cancer SocietyAmerican Academy of Dermatology

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