Would You Catch The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer?


Nearly 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. That’s almost 3-4 million people yearly—more than all the other cancers combined.

When it is detected early, skin cancer is almost always treatable. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of the warning signs and to see a doctor if you notice anything suspicious.

Learn The ABCDE’s of Melanoma

Researchers have made it easier for people to self-detect the warning signs of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by creating the “ABCDE” checklist.

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Asymmetry: The mole’s shape is uneven or irregular.
  • Border: The edges are ragged, uneven, or otherwise not well-defined.
  • Color: It is more than one color and may include shades of brown, black, tan, red, white, or blue.
  • Diameter: The mole is larger than 1/4 inch (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • Evolving: The mole changes in color, size, shape, or other characteristics.

The “Ugly Duckling” Rule

In addition to the ABCDEs, there is also the “ugly duckling” rule. This suggests that if you have a mole that looks different from all your other moles, it’s probably worth checking it out.

While this may not be a perfect rule of thumb on its own, combining it with the ABCDEs can give you a pretty good idea of when it’s time to see a doctor.

Some researchers have recommended including this guideline as an “F” for “funny looking” to make it ABCDEF.

Other Common Forms of Skin Cancer

Each type of skin cancer takes on a different appearance. So, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of each type in addition to the general ABCDEF guidelines.

Melanoma develops in the pigment-producing cells of the skin (melanocytes). These tumors are often dark in color and can spread quickly if left untreated.

Basal cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer. They often appear as a ring-shaped bump with an open sore in the center.

Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common form of skin cancer. These manifest as a crusty, scaly patch of skin that may bleed or not heal. It might also grow into a “cutaneous horn,” which is a pointy growth made of keratin (the same material your fingernails are made of).

How To Reduce Your Risk

Even though skin cancer is so common, it is also the most preventable type of cancer.

The vast majority of skin cancer cases are directly linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

So, the best way to reduce your risk is to take steps to protect yourself from the sun. This includes wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen every time you are outside during the day, avoiding peak sun hours, and wearing protective clothing.

Keep an eye on any changes to your skin, and see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice anything suspicious. Early detection is key to successful treatment.