The ABCDE's of Skin Cancer

The ABCDE's of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy in the world. The biggest reason to protect yourself from UV rays, which are emitted from the Sun, is the fact that it poses a potential risk for skin cancer. 

The good news is, researchers have shown that nearly every case of skin cancer is curable if it is detected early. That being said, learning about signs of skin cancer can be a life saver for you, literally.

The signs of skin cancer can be described by a popular alphabetical mnemonic, ABCDE. Chances are you have heard about the ABCDs of skin cancer, each letter indicates a certain characteristic of those skin issues, sores, or lesions, which may be cancerous.

Let's start with, "A, Asymmetry" refers to asymmetry (shape), because cancerous skin lesions are often shaped irregularly.

Another sign of a potential cancerous lesion, is "B, Borders", skin cancers, unlike normal moles or other skin tumors, often lack defined borders.

"C, Color", is important because cancer sores are often red, blue, white, or black in appearance, and look very different from benign growths on your skin.

"D- Diameter" or size, of the skin lesion, tells people that growths greater than a quarter of an inch in size should be evaluated by a doctor.

Finally, the last letter in the mnemonic is "E, Evolution (changes) or Elevation". Skin cancers are often raised above the surface of the skin, and the surface is uneven, and they change, evolve.

There are other signs that include the presence of sores that do not heal. These sores may begin to bleed or drain yellowish fluid for a time, then scab over and appear as though they are healing. They do not heal, however, but begin to drain and then scab over again.

On occasion cancerous tumors may grow from a mole or freckle. More often, however, these tumors appear as new growths on the surface of the skin. The presence of a new growth that can be described by any of the letters described above is a red flag. If you discover these growths on your body, you should see a physician right away.

For those with freckles or very fair skin, you should have skin examinations on a regular basis, every 6 months at minimum. Other indications that could make you more susceptible for skin cancer is prolonged exposure to the son and if anyone in your family has ever had skin cancer. Early detection is the key that may save your life!