Skin Cancer ABCs

Medical scan of a malignant melanoma
Skin cancer, malignant melanoma

Learn Your ABC's

Do you know your ABC's? No, we're not talking about the alphabet we often recite, but rather the one pertaining to skin cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends regular self-examination using the ABCDE Cancer Checklist to help make potential skin cancer easier to recognize. When checking existing moles, look for changes in any of the following:

A - Asymmetry
A malignant melanoma is asymmetrical.

B - Border
A malignant melanoma has an uneven border.

C - Color
A malignant melanoma has an uneven color.

D - Diameter
A malignant melanoma is larger in diameter than a pencil eraser.

E - Evolution
A malignant melanoma changes or evolves with time.

The risk of skin cancer multiplies when DNA is damaged by cumulative ultraviolet sun exposure. Tumors form when cells begin to divide rapidly and unevenly. Skin cancer can be present in three distinct degrees varying in severity. The most common form, basal cell carcinoma, is characterized by light, pearly nodules with varying blood vessels running through the nodules at times. This type can be easily removed by a physician. The second type, squamous cell carcinoma, is a more serious condition marked by red or pink scaly papules or nodules. Sometimes these areas are open and do not heal easily. Squamous cell carcinoma can spread to other areas of the body as well if left untreated.

The third presentation, malignant melanoma, is the most serious form of skin cancer. Black or dark patches on the skin are usually uneven in texture, jagged, or raised. It is not always found on areas exposed to sunlight and is often found on the feet, toes, and legs. This type is more deadly as it can spread throughout the body to internal organs.

As you can see, periodical mole examinations from a physician are an integral part of the continued health of your skin.

If you would like to make an appointment or talk to someone about our services, please call 410-328-SKIN (7546) or 410-328-FACE (3223).