Friday, March 2, 2012

ABCDs of Skin Cancer Warning

Q: What are the warning signs of skin cancer?

A: There are several different types of skin cancer, and each can present in a different way.
In general, for non-melanoma skin cancers, be particularly suspicious of any new skin lesions or irritation that persist for longer than a month.

The warning signs for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer can be summarized with the ABCD rule.

A is for ASYMMETRY: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for BORDER: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.

C is for COLOR: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

D is for DIAMETER: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about 1/4 inch–the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

Other warning signs are:

1. A sore that does not heal.
2. Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin.
3. Redness or a new swelling beyond the border.
4. Change in sensation–itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
5. Change in the surface of a mole–scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule.
6. A mole that looks very different from your other moles.

Everyone should have a health care professional perform a full-body skin survey once a year.

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