HEALTH CENTER

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A Touch on Skin Cancer by Jessica Sticht

The summer months are coming so it is time to lather up that sunscreen.  Did you know that you should use a shot glass full of sunscreen on your whole body to provide the correct amount of coverage per application?  As a redhead, I have lots of experience covering up in the sun and using sunscreen and wearing hats!  It’s a good way to stay on top of the harsh rays of the sun.   Don’t forget this goes for overcast days as well.

The thing about skin cancer is that it can be cured if it is found and treated early.  There are warning signs of skin cancer.  The different types – melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma start out as precancerous lesions.  The precancerous lesions are changes in skin that are not cancer but could become cancer over time.  That is why it is good to see a dermatologist annually to have a skin check to stop it in its tracks!

Actinic Keratosis – This is usually a small scaly patch of skin caused by too much sun.  It is usually found on the head, neck or hands but can be found elsewhere.

Cutaneous Horns – These appear as a funnel-shaped growth that extends from a red base on the skin.  It is made up of the same protein found in fingernails.  The growth size can vary and is usually found in fair skinned elderly adults with a history of sun exposure.

Moles – Moles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Moles usually form in youth or young adulthood.  It is unusual to get a mole in the adult years.  Although it is unlikely that a mole will become cancer, atypical moles can develop into melanoma over time.  That is why you should know the ABCDE’s of moles…

A is for Asymmetry – Meaning one half of a mole does not match the other half.  If the two halves do not match then get the mole checked by a dermatologist.

B is for Border – If the border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred or irregular, have it checked by a dermatologist.

C is for Color – The color of the mole should be consistent.  If the mole has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red it is suspicious.  Normal moles usually are a single shade of color.  If the color is not consistent have it checked by a dermatologist.

D is for Diameter – A mole larger than a pencil eraser could be cancerous.  Benign moles are usually less than 6 millimeters in diameter.

E is for Evolving – A mole that changes, shrinks, grows, itches, or bleeds needs to be checked by a doctor.  If a portion is elevated and a portion is flat it should be checked as well.

Remember, early detection is the best option!  Do annual exams and keep records of any moles for change.  It is a good idea to keep track of larger moles by taking a picture of them and checking them annually for any differences.  Once people have had skin cancer they are at higher risk for getting it again.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.