Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and millions of people across the world are diagnosed with it each year. It can take the form of basal or squamous cell cancer or melanoma, the rarest form of skin cancer but also the most deadly. It can also be anywhere on your body, not just the arms, legs or back, as many people think. The good news is that it is very treatable if caught early. Below is what is known as the ABCDE criteria to help you decide if your mole or pigment spot should be checked by a health professional.
Your mole or spot is symmetrical if, were you to cut it in half, the two sides would be mirror images of one another. If, on the other hand, the area is asymmetrical or lop-sided, this could be an early warning sign that it is cancerous.
Check out the border of your mole or spot. If the border or edge of the spot is well-defined and clear, that is a good sign that it is benign. If, however, the border is irregular, has a scalloped edge or it just poorly defined, this is another sign that you need to go into a health professional immediately to have them check it out.
If your mole is a one color – usually a solid brown – this is normal. On the other hand, if moles have a color that varies in shade from one area to another or have different colors – such as blues, reds, whites, or blacks – this is also a reason to be concerned and to make an appointment with a doctor immediately for further examination.
Size of a mole or spot is also important – in general, healthy areas should be smaller than the end of a pencil eraser. Areas that are larger than this – or an area that has grown since the last time it was checked – should also be checked out immediately. In general, melanomas are greater than six millimeters in diameter.
Even if you have no other symptoms such as the ones mentioned above, if a spot or mole begins to change – whether it grows, changes color or adds color or alters its shape – this is another sign which requires further medical examination and possible testing.
Skin cancer takes many lives each year. However, wearing sun screen, avoiding the sun during the hottest hours of the day and wearing protective clothing are all great ways to avoid this. So is knowing the five warning signs of cancer that need to be checked out as soon as possible, since early treatment is linked to higher survival rates and better prognosis.
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