In an Expert Journal Blog called "Skin Cancer: Warning Signs and Prevention," Dr. Mary Simmonds, a medical oncologist in practice with Andrews & Patel, P.C. wrote:
Melanoma develops in an existing mole and there are warning signs to be recognized:
A- A mole is normally round and symmetrical. Melanoma grows erratically and one side of the mole can grow larger, making the mole appear ASSYMETRICAL.
B- The edge of a mole is normally smooth and round. As a melanoma changes over time, theBORDER of the mole starts to appear irregular.
C- The COLOR of a mole is normally even across the surface of the mole. Melanomas often change color from brown to black, red, purple and even lose color.
D- The DIAMETER of a mole is similar to the size of a pencil eraser. Melanomas grow wider.
These are the warning signs that we all should recognize and show any suspicious moles to a physician. Most moles develop on the skin-exposed surface, but they can also develop on the scalp, palms of the hand or the soles of the feet, inside the mouth, under the finger nail, or even behind the eye. When dark-skinned people develop melanoma, they are more likely to form in these locations. Early detection of melanoma is vitally important. When a melanoma is removed in the beginning stage, the cure rate is essentially guaranteed.
Even better than early detection, is prevention of cancerous changes in the skin. Skin cancers of all three types are preventable. To protect yourself, follow these tips:
Avoid sun exposure during the middle of the day.
Wear sunscreen year-round. Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Use a generous amount on all exposed surfaces, including lips, ears, and back of the neck and hands. Re-apply sunscreen after swimming or when sweating. It is more important to re-apply sunscreen during prolonged exposure to the sun, rather than a single application of a sunscreen with the highest SPF.
Wear protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat. Also wear sunglasses.
And, The American Cancer Society shares the following tips for preventing skin cancer:
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on a generous amount of sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating
- Slap on a hat, especially one with a wide brim
- Wrap on sunglasses
Other related stories and information about skin cancer: