Every day, around 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. While this statistic is shocking, don’t panic. Skin cancer may be the most prevalent type of cancer in the United States, but it’s also one of the most survivable. When you identify a suspicious mole early and talk to your trusted dermatologist, you can take action to remove the abnormal cells quickly before they spread and cause more serious health issues.
While you should schedule routine skin checks with our expert team of dermatologists here at SINY Dermatology, you can also monitor your skin at home. As with nearly all diseases, the earlier you identify a change, get a diagnosis, and start treatment, the better for your overall outcome. We recommend using the ABCDE method while examining your skin at home.
We all know that sun exposure is a significant contributing factor to your skin cancer risk. The ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the DNA in your skin, stimulating abnormal cell development. The effects of sun damage are cumulative. This means that as you spend time outdoors without sunscreen or other protection over the years, you increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
However, sun exposure isn’t the only risk factor for skin cancer. Many skin cancers emerge in places that rarely see the sun. Your genetics and family history also contribute to your risk, even if you consistently use a high factor, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Regardless of your skin cancer risk, it’s worth paying attention to your skin at home. We recommend following your ABCDEs. This easy, 5-step process helps you monitor your moles and other marks on your skin.
Almost everyone has a mole on their skin. Healthy moles are round or oval in shape and relatively symmetrical. Melanomas are usually asymmetrical. They won’t be perfectly round, and one side of the growth might look completely different from the other side. You should show any irregularly shaped moles or marks to your dermatologist.
In addition to being round, the edges of ordinary moles are typically even and smooth. Cancerous growths have blurry, jagged, or otherwise irregular edges. The darker pigmentation may appear to blend into the surrounding tissue.
Common moles are usually brown or tan. They might vary in tone compared to their neighbors, with some being lighter or darker. However, each individual common mole is evenly colored. Cancerous spots are more likely to appear mottled, with several colors present in the same growth. They’re also more likely to look red, blue, or even white or black.
A healthy mole is usually smaller in diameter than a pencil eraser. If you notice a mole or other growth that’s larger than the size of a pea, you should make an appointment at SINY Dermatology right away.
Common moles don’t change in size, shape, or color. You should recognize most of the moles or marks on your body. You can use mirrors or even the camera on your smartphone to get a look at the parts of your body that you can’t see easily.
Cancers tend to evolve more quickly, changing in size, shape, or color. So, if you have any new growths or moles that change in appearance, make an appointment for a professional skin exam.
Call us or schedule an appointment online at any of our New York City offices in Bay Ridge, Park Slope, West Village, Upper East Side or Forest Hills if you notice any of the ABCDEs on your skin. Early detection is critical to successful treatment and survivorship!