How to Spot Skin Cancer
Dr. Leslie Baumann
Your skin is “Non-Pigmented” because of its lack of protective pigment called melanin. Aesthetically speaking, you’re lucky since hyperpigmentation (too much pigment) is a beauty concern that women the world over struggle with, but medically speaking, this can put you at a disadvantage.
Melanin acts like a built-in sunscreen, and helps shield skin from damaging UV rays. But without an abundance of this pigment, your skin is susceptible to damage, which you probably already know from your tendency to burn. It’s widely known that just a handful of bad sunburns over a lifetime (and especially in our youth) raise a person’s skin cancer risk.
Redheads (and especially redheads who freckle a lot) are at an increased risk of melanoma. If one of your parents, siblings or grandparents has developed melanoma, you have a greater risk and you should get checked by a dermatologist every six months. Here are a few simple ways to identify melanoma skin cancer.
1.Do monthly skin checks yourself. If you get to know your skin, it will be easy to spot a mole or growth that changes over time. Regular self-checks are the most common way that suspicious moles are spotted, and if you see a change, call your dermatologist pronto.
2.Know your ABCDEs. When doing your own skin checks, keep these red flags in mind…
A: Asymmetry. One half of a mole is different than the other.
B. Border. The edges of a mole are irregular, notched or blurred.
C. Color. Color is uneven, and shades of brown, tan and black are present.
D. Diameter. Your mole is larger than 6 millimeters across.
E. Elevation. A mole is raised above the surface of the surrounding skin.
3.Schedule a yearly skin check with your dermatologist. In addition to monthly self-exams, everyone—regardless of skin type—should get an annual full body check. During these visits, your doctor will create a map of sorts of your moles, and know which ones to check on the next time you’re in the office. (If you’re high-risk, make an appointment every six months.)
P.S. If you don’t think melanoma can happen to you, check out this eye-opening video and you might start to see things differently.
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