Skin Cancer: Spot the Signs that May Mean Trouble

By Michael W. Rosen, M.D.

When it comes to your skin, familiarity breeds protection. Knowing it well can help you recognize changes that may indicate melanoma — the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma is a serious disease. But, when it’s detected and treated early, it is often curable.

Be on the lookout

Many experts recommend regular self-checks. If you notice any new or changing spot on your skin, let your doctor know. And, when checking moles, freckles or other skin changes, remember the ABCDEs:

  • 1. A is for Asymmetry: One half that doesn’t match the other
  • 2. B is for Border: Irregular or ragged edges
  • 3. C is for Color: A mix of shades or colors
  • 4. D is for Diameter: A width of more than 6 millimeters, about the size of a pencil eraser
  • 5. E is for Evolving: A Change in the size, shape or color of a spot or the surrounding skin

Other things to look for include areas that:

  • 1. Are rough, scaly or lumpy
  • 2. Look red or swollen
  • 3. Ooze or bleed
  • 4. Feel itchy, tender or painful
  • 5. Grow back after having been removed

These signs don’t necessarily mean cancer. But, it’s always best to have them checked by your doctor. And, see “Take a good look” for printable tips on doing a careful skin self-check.


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