May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. The month is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the importance of skin cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 5.4 million cases in more than 3.3 million people diagnosed annually. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer and highly treatable when detected early.
Skin cancer occurs when there are abnormalities in the cells that make up the skin. There are two main types of malignant cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing cancer found in the base of the epidermis that accounts for about 90% of all skin cancers. It seldom spreads, but if left untreated can invade bone and other tissues under the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is found on the surface of the skin. It can be more aggressive, can grow deep below the skin and spread to distant areas of the body. A third type of skin cancer, called melanoma, begins in the cells that produce pigment in the skin. This type is less common, but more serious. However, if caught early, there is a nearly 97% chance for cure.
To help spread awareness and make the melanoma warning signs memorable, the signs of a possible malignant mole can be abbreviated to the mnemonic: ABCDE
A – Asymmetry: is the mole asymmetrical? If you imagine a line drawn across the center of the mole, if the two halves do not match then they are considered asymmetrical. If you have an asymmetrical mole seek medical assistance.
B – Border: does the border or edge of the mole look uneven? If so, please seek medical advice.
C – Color: is the mole one uniform color? If there are several colors or shades of a color within a mole this could be a warning sign. Seek medical assistance.
D – Diameter: how big is the mole? Melanomas often have a diameter of 6mm (1/4inch) or more (diameter is the length across the mole).
E – Evolving: has the mole changed in shape, size or color? Have you noticed any other changes such as bleeding, itching or puss coming from the mole? These may be signs of a malignant mole so seek medical assistance.
If you have questions about skin cancer or skin cancer treatment, please contact our center today.