Skin Cancer Warning Signs

Submitted by Patrick Hatfield on Wed, 05/15/2019 - 1:10 am

Your skin is your largest organ in the body.  This organ protects the entire surface of your body and acts as a barrier between you and the world.  When your skin is protected and treated properly it can save you from foreign invaders.  However, if it is exposed to chemicals and excessive sun without sunblock, it can become damaged.  This damage can be repaired if it is caught early, so below are some symptoms that can help you determine if your skin is in danger.

Warning Signs

There is an easy to remember ABCDE rule to determine if a mole, spot, sore, lump, or blemish may be cancerous. 

              A – Asymmetry is in place where one half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other half.

              B – Border of the are is irregular, notched, blurred, and ragged.

              C – Color is not uniform over the area and tends to change color within the spot.

              D – Diameter of the spot is usually 6 millimeters or greater.

              E – Evolving where the mole changes shape, color, or size.

These are the basic warning signs to teach the public when they should go in and visit with a doctor or dermatologist.  There are also a few other warning signs that should also be considered, including a sore that doesn’t heal, spreading of pigment to surrounding skin, redness or swelling outside of the border, change in sensation in the spot, or a change in texture on the lesion.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that can contribute to skin cancer.  One is UV light exposure, which can occur by the sun’s rays or tanning beds.  UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells and the damage controls skin cell growth.  Another risk factor is moles in general.  They are non-cancerous pigmented tumors that usually have no link to cancer.  Those with many moles, have a higher chance of forming cancer on their moles.  Also, those who were sunburned several times during their childhood are also more likely to develop skin cancer.  Those who are fair in complexion are also at a higher risk.  Genetic history of melanoma is also an increased risk factor.

Dermatologist

Visiting a dermatologist is a great first step if you find any changes or differences in moles on your body.  They can measure the mole and feel the texture to determine if it looks to be cancerous.  They can then then determine if any of the spots are cancerous by taking a small biopsy of the suspected area and having it sent to a pathologist for testing.  They can see if cancerous cells are present and it if they are, then a surgery may be necessary to remove the cancerous tissue.  Once the cancer is removed with a healthy tissue border, a pathologist will determine that the cancerous cells were contained and haven’t spread to any other skin cells nearby.  Dermatologists can use various screening techniques to determine if the moles on your body are cancerous or not. If you are experiencing any of the above warning signs, visiting with a dermatologist is the first step to a healthier you.