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One out of every five people in the United States will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States; each year, there are more cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

Although skin cancer is very common, it’s also one of the most preventable cancers. Learn how you can spot skin cancer warning signs and identify the different types of skin cancer with these helpful tips and tricks, including the melanoma ABCDE rule.

“Generally, a change in a mole or growth are the first signs that a cancer may be there,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger states. “Bleeding, irritation or dark coloration of a mole can be a bad sign. Look for signs of change over time as many moles can change, especially birthmarks.”

The types of skin cancer include actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. All of these types of skin cancer are serious diseases, although some are more dangerous than others.

Actinic keratosis usually has red or pink scaly patches on the sun exposed areas of the skin. This can be a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma, a more serious form of cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma is identified by raised, waxy pink bumps that may bleed or be tender to the touch. They rarely spread to other parts of the body but are very invasive to the location of the mole.

Squamous cell carcinoma leaves dull red, scaly and rough raised lesions on the skin. They occur frequently on the areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun.

Melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer – although only 4% of diagnosed skin cancer cases are melanoma, this deadly type accounts for 77% of skin cancer deaths.

Check for this dangerous cancer by following the melanoma ABCDE rule. Examine your moles for these early signs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry
  • Borders with irregular edges
  • Color is disjointed or variegated
  • Diameter is larger than a pencil eraser
  • Evolving over time

Since melanoma is one of the most dangerous and aggressive types of skin cancer, be sure to use the melanoma ABCDE rule whenever you examine your moles.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger notes that skin cancers can be easy to check for yourself, but remember to always get a yearly check with your dermatologist.

“Dermatologists are uniquely qualified to evaluate and treat skin cancers and moles, so it is wise to make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation of any concerning growths.”

Posted Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Filed Under Category: Skin Cancer, Skin Care, Sun Protection
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