Dr. Myers is trained to identify the early signs of skin cancer. There are several good options for pre-cancer therapy, resolving concerns before they become dangerous.
We are all aware by now that skin cancer is, unfortunately, quite common. No one likes to hear bad news, but the best way to keep bad news from turning into the worst possible news is skin cancer early detection.
In order to detect skin cancer on time, you have to know how to check yourself for signs!
Early Detection of Skin Cancer
General prevention such as regularly using sunblock and keeping a healthy and balanced diet can go a long way, but no one is exempt from self-examination. Once a month, at least, do a full head-to-toe examination of your own body. Undress in front of a mirror and closely examine every visible area of your skin. First look at your body front and back, then look at the right and left sides with raised arms. Bend your elbows and examine your forearms, upper underarms, and the palms of your hands. Check the backs of your legs, your feet, and in between your toes. You can examine your neck and scalp, as well as your back and rear, with a hand mirror facing opposite the larger one.
Skin cancers such as melanomas, basal and squamous cell carcinomas can be cured if found and treated early. As we mentioned, they often start as changes to your skin; changes in color and texture or abnormal growths. Basal cell carcinomas form in sun-exposed areas of your body such as your head neck and arms and they come in many forms including itchy, reddish patches, or pink translucent growths. Squamous cell carcinomas can appear as rough, scaly patches, wart-like growths, or open sores. We recommend that you do an online search for images of these issues to best have an idea of what they look like.
ABCDE Basic Examination Rule
Melanomas, on the other hand, are often confused with regular moles. Most moles are harmless and natural and may even fade away with age. Melanomas have a basic rule to examination called the ABCDE rule. A stands for Asymmetry, meaning that one half of a mole looks different from the other. B is for Border, which means the edges of the mole are irregular or notched. C stands for Color, which means that the mole has differences in color such as brown with pink patches. D is for Diameter, meaning a melanoma is often larger than 6 millimeters (1/4 inch) in diameter. And most importantly, E stands for Evolving, which means you have observed the mole changing in size, shape, or color. Also be on the lookout for sores that do not heal, the spread of pigment from the edge of a spot beyond that edge, and changes to the surface of a mole such as additional bumps or scales.
If you happen to spot a change in your skin such as a mole that fulfills the criteria, see a dermatologist, immediately! If your dermatologist considers the mole to be irregular, they will usually take a tissue sample to perform a biopsy. That is the best way to confirm if the growth is cancerous or not. If it is the case, a dermatologist will often opt to remove it completely, but additional treatment may be needed afterward.
Please remember that skin cancer early detection is vital in the fight against skin cancer, prevention and detection are the best methods. Non-melanoma skin cancers are common and almost always cured if found on time and treated properly. Malignant melanoma, however, especially in later stages, is very difficult to treat, but early diagnosis and proper treatment can increase the survival rate. If you have had skin cancer previously, please remember this increases your chances of possibly getting it again, so medical check-ups at least once a year are mandatory.
Utah Valley Dermatology greatly recommends making a habit of both regular self-examination and preventive measures to avoid the risk of skin cancer so that you can continue to enjoy living with healthy skin!