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Five Signs of Skin Cancer

Five Signs of Skin Cancer
Five Signs of Skin Cancer

Learn to recognize early signs of skin cancer so you can get it treated early. With more than 1 million new cases each year, skin cancer is the leading form of cancer in the United States.
It's a cancer that forms in the cells and tissues of the skin and the risk of developing it increases the more the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays. The good news is that many forms of skin cancer are very treatable and there are less than 1,000 deaths annually from skin cancer.

Many forms of skin cancer initially start out as lesions, moles or slow growing tumors. Recognizing the potentially cancerous ones from simple body blemishes is the key to getting early treatment. Skin cancer specialists have developed five signs of skin cancer that include a handy self-check method (known as ABCD) to assist people in determining what moles are a warning sign and which ones are not.

Asymmetry: Check to see if the mole is rounded and symmetrical, that is, both sides look even with each other. If a mole is assymetrical, watch it closely to see if it develops any of the other skin cancer characteristics.

Border: Study the edges of the lesion. A regular mole generally has a smooth border between the darker pigment and regular skin. If the edge is irregular or rough, it might be a warning sign.

Color: Moles are generally one color-dark brown to light brown to pinkish. Malignant melanoma will usually have multiple colors ranging from near black to light pink, all within the same lesion.

Diameter: If the mole is wider than ¼ inch (about the width of a pencil eraser), the chances of melanoma are greater than those that are small. If any mole grows noticeably in a short amount of time, consider that a warning sign as well.

Pain: If a lesion is burning, itching, bleeding or has developed redness or hardening, chances are good that a doctor will recommend further tests to determine if the mole is cancerous.


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