Skin cancer is notoriously difficult to notice with an untrained eye. There are some techniques for identifying troublesome spots, but ultimately it is only through examinations by a trusted dermatologist that anyone can be sure they do or don’t have skin cancer. Even then, some benign spots can be pre-cancerous, warranting removal. In this blog we will discuss some of the tell-tale signs of skin cancer as well as some of the risk factors that might make you more susceptible to developing skin cancer in your lifetime.
The ABCDE Method of Identifying Melanoma
Not all skin cancers present themselves in the same way. In fact, even skin cancers of the same type often look different from one another. This is due to various factors, including complexion, ethnicity, the area of the body in which the cancer has formed in, and the unpredictable and mutating nature of cancer cells.
However, when identifying melanoma lesions, the best method for early detection is the ABCDE method. This method can help people identify worrisome moles in the comfort of their home before bringing them to the attention of their skin specialist. The steps for this method of identification are listed below.
- Stands for asymmetry. Healthy moles tend to be circular or oval. Moles that have an irregular shape may be a sign of melanoma.
- Stands for borders. The borders of a healthy mole typically appear smooth. Rough, faded, or ill-defined borders can be cause for concern.
- Stands for color. Moles that change in color or tone may be a sign of melanoma.
- Stands for diameter. Healthy moles are usually ¼ of an inch or smaller in diameter.
- Stands for evolution. Moles that change in appearance, begin to itch or bleed, or become painful can be symptoms of melanoma.
Identifying Squamous and Basal Cell Carcinoma
Carcinoma can be more difficult to identify than melanoma, as their appearances tend to closely resemble healthy moles. However, there are a few signs to watch for.
Squamous cell carcinoma forms in the top layer of the skin when new skin cells grow out of control. They usually present as scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths, or warts. Basal cell carcinoma, on the other hand, forms in the innermost layer of skin. There are several types of basal cell carcinoma with a variety of appearances. Nodular BCCs are the most common type, presenting as dome-shaped pink pearly, shiny bump with tiny blood vessels.
Identifying Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel cell cancer is an incredibly rare form of skin cancer; 40 times more ran than melanoma (which, itself, accounts for only 1% of all skin cancer diagnoses). But, despite its rare nature, Merkel cell is also the deadliest form of skin cancer (3 to 5 times more deadly than melanoma). For this reason, it is vital to watch for early warning signs of this cancer, which typically present as raised, red, purple, or skin-colored pimple-like lesions.
Schedule Your Annual Skin Cancer Screening at Vanguard Skin Specialists
Although there are some tips for self-evaluating moles and lesions at home, nothing compares to a professional skin cancer screening from your dermatologist. Not only are dermatologists better suited at identifying potentially cancerous spots, they also can see parts of your body that you might not be able to with ease.
If you have any concerns about moles, call Vanguard at (719) 355-1585 or fill out our online appointment request form to schedule your skin cancer screening today.
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