Skin Cancer Basics: Know Your ABCDEs

January 30, 2024

February marks National Cancer Prevention Month, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness about skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, and more than two people succumb to this disease every hour in the U.S.

To mitigate the risks associated with skin cancer, particularly melanoma, which has a 99 percent 5-year survival rate when detected early, it's crucial to adopt preventive measures and prioritize early detection. Here are some valuable tips and resources to aid in the early identification of potential skin cancer signs.

Perform a Self-Exam for Skin Cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a comprehensive self-examination to check for signs of skin cancer. Follow these steps:

  • Utilize a full-length mirror to examine the front and back of your body, including both sides with raised arms.
  • Pay attention to the palms, forearms, underarms, soles of the feet, between the toes, and legs.
  • Employ a hand mirror to scrutinize the neck and scalp.
  • Use a hand mirror for a thorough examination of the back and buttocks.

Know Your ABCDE for Skin Cancer

Remember the ABCDEs of skin cancer to identify potential warning signs:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of the spot is unlike the other half.
  • B is for Border: The spot has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
  • C is for Color: The spot exhibits varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown, or black, or areas of white, red, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: While melanomas are typically larger than 6 millimeters, they can be smaller when diagnosed.
  • E is for Evolving: If the mole has changed over the past few weeks or months, it warrants attention.

Get Regular Skin Cancer Screenings

As an integral part of an early detection strategy, it is recommended to schedule an annual visit with one of our dermatologists. For those at a higher risk of skin cancer, more frequent screenings may be necessary. A professional, full-body skin examination by one of our dermatologists can play a vital role in identifying potential issues early on.

If you notice a spot that differs from others or undergoes changes in appearance, itching, or bleeding, don't hesitate to make an appointment with one of our dermatologists. Your proactive approach to skin health can make a significant difference in preventing and detecting skin cancer.