Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. In fact, an estimated 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. It’s important to know the signs of skin cancer so you can get yourself checked.
Because skin cancer usually shows up in the form of moles, the best way to know when you have to see a doctor to get checked for skin cancer is to check your moles. And the best way to do that is through the ABCDE method. At Skinworks Dermatology, with three New York City locations, dermatologist Javier Zelaya, MD, and our team are dedicated to caring for your skin. Here’s what you need to know about skin cancer and the ABCDE method.
About skin cancer
Skin cancer is essentially an abnormal growth of skin cells that’s developed on your skin. These cells become abnormal due to exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
For that reason, you usually find skin cancer on areas of your body that get heavy sun exposure, like your shoulders and arms. Skin cancer is also found in areas that aren’t exposed to the sun, but it’s less common.
There are three kinds of skin cancer, including:
Basal cell carcinoma
Generally appearing on your neck or face, this kind of skin cancer usually presents with milky, waxy bumps; flat, dark lesions; and bleeding or scabbing sores that return after healing.
Squamous cell carcinoma
The most benign type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma is usually found on the face, shoulders, ears, arms, and hands. If you have darker skin, you’re likely to find these moles in areas that don’t get sun exposure. These moles present as firm, red nodules or flat lesions that have a scaly or crust-covered surface.
This is the most serious type of skin cancer and the most likely to spread to other areas of your body. Melanoma usually appears on your face or your trunk if you’re a man, and on your lower legs if you’re a woman. Melanoma moles are usually large, brown, and speckled. They can also present as moles that change in color and size, or bleed. Or you may have painful lesions that itch and burn.
Using the ABCDE method
To know when a mole warrants a doctor’s visit, we recommend using the ABCDE method. ABCDE stands for:
- Asymmetrical: Is your mole irregular in shape?
- Border: Does your mole have a jagged or irregular border?
- Color: Is your mole’s color uneven?
- Diameter: Is your mole bigger than a pea?
- Evolving: Has your mole grown, changed in texture, or started bleeding over the course of the last few weeks or months?
As with any cancer, early detection of skin cancer is important. If you have a mole that concerns you, the dermatological experts at Skinworks Dermatology can help. To learn more, call the office nearest you or request an appointment online.