Skin cancer is the most common form in the United States, with more people diagnosed with it each year than all the other cancers combined, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation data. In the U.S., 5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. As medical awareness and technology has improved, deaths related to skin cancer have decreased, however, but with cases of reported skin cancer on the rise.
The good news is that skin cancer is one type that you are able to see and with the right treatment, can be eradicated early on. Once the skin cancer has advanced, it is more difficult to treat — making skin self exams and early visits to a dermatologist crucial.
New moles or growths on the skin should be taken seriously and examined, though not all of these developments are dangerous. The best way to determine if a skin growth is dangerous is to follow the ABCDE’s of skin cancer detection, as established by Dr. Darrel Rigel and Dr. Bob Freidman and accepted by the American Academy of Dermatology. This guideline has been translated into several languages in addition to English and has saved lives worldwide.
The doctors spent time taking photos of early melanomas, or skin cancer lesions, and came up with a template for dermatologists and patients to check their own symptoms against. These are an outline of what to look for when you do skin self exams. Consult your dermatologist immediately if any growths on your skin show:
A – Asymmetry
If you were to divide the growth/mole in half, and the two sides did not match, the growth is asymmetric and a reason for concern. If each side of the growth is equal to the other, there is likely no reason to be concerned (unless other symptoms in this list occur).
B – Border
A mole or growth that could indicate skin cancer will have a rigid, irregular border that is hard to define. A clear-cut border usually does not indicate skin cancer.
C – Color
When the color, or shades of color, in a mole or growth varies, it’s time to consult your dermatologist. A combination of tan, black, brown and even blue or red can be a signal to see your healthcare professional to have it checked out.
D – Diameter
While it isn’t an exact science, the diameter of a melanoma is typically bigger than 6mm, which is about the size of a pencil eraser. If other signs are present from this list, despite its size, have the mole or growth checked out by your dermatologist immediately.
E – Evolving
A dangerous mole or growth will change over time, and sometimes rapidly. If you see that the mole is evolving to change appearance in shape or color, have it checked out immediately.
Performing self skin checks regularly will help you notice when anything changes. Do those by looking in a full length mirror and looking in less-obvious places, like between fingers and toes and on your scalp. When possible, have another person help you check your back and other places that are difficult to see. A skin growth that itches or bleeds calls for immediate examination by a medical professional.
At Xstrahl, we want to help patients eradicate their own skin cancer growths without surgery, downtime or pain. Our RADiant device uses radiotherapy to treat skin growths, including non-melanoma skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Visit RADiant’s patient information pageto learn more about this surgery-free skin cancer treatment technology.