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Being sure that you wear sunscreen regularly, washing and moisturizing your skin daily is a great habit. However, really protecting your health and your skin from skin cancer by regularly checking your skin, looking for the potential signs of cancer is an even better habit!
WHAT ARE THE FIRST SIGNS OF SKIN CANCER?
Finding cancer in the earliest stage, no matter what type it is, is always better as far as the prognosis goes. Having skin cancer can vary in symptoms in correlation with what kind of skin cancer you may have. Things you need to look for are symptoms such as:
- Patches of skin that are scaly and cannot be treated with lotion or cream.
- Red bumps that feel hard and appear on your arms, hands, face or neck
- Moles that bleed, begin to get larger or have irregular borders
- Bumps on the face or neck that look waxy
Skin cancers are typically found on areas of the body that are more exposed to the sun. That includes parts of the body such as; the scalp, lips, arms, legs, hands, neck and face. However, skin cancer can be found anywhere even in your mouth, between toes and fingers, on your eyelids and underneath your fingernails and toenails. The signs of skin cancer may come about very slowly while others can develop rather suddenly.
Skin cancer does not discriminate. Your gender, skin color, or race make no difference. You still have the same chance of finding skin cancer on your body, no matter who you are.
CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU NOTICE ANY SUSPICIOUS SIGNS THAT MAY POINT TO SKIN CANCER
Some early signs that skin cancer could be present include a mole that is getting darker or lighter or has different colors within it. Other signs can be flaky skin that never improves no matter how often you treat it with lotions or creams and sores that refuse to heal.
Dr. Rapaport recommends to check the ABCDEs of moles in order to guide you as to how to confirm if a mole may be suspicious. If any of these signs are present, call your doctor immediately. Here is the mole alphabet:
A is asymmetry. Moles that are not round or the same on both sides
B is border. The outer edges of the mole are not smooth.
C is color. Areas inside a brown or black mole that are red, blue or white in color.
D is diameter. Moles should not be larger than a pencil eraser.
E is evolution. Any moles that have changed in the way they look and/or in their size.
SPOTTING CANCER IN UNUSUAL PLACES
Skin cancers can appear anywhere on the skin. Skin cancers linked to sun exposure are more likely to appear on areas that are chronically or intermittently exposed to the sun. If the mole ABCDEs are applicable to spots anywhere unusual, you should still contact your doctor to have it evaluated.
MAKING AN APPOINTMENT WITH A DERMATOLOGIST
Since Dermatologists are specialists, making an appointment can be hard to get and sometimes very frustrating. In fact, do not be surprised if it takes you weeks or months to get an appointment scheduled to see the doctor, since the type of appointment you need is considered cosmetic. However, the seriousness of the problem requires immediate attention. Call your family physician or dermatologist and tell them what you’ve discovered and that you need to be seen sooner.
Dr. Rapaport recommends that people get a yearly skin cancer check from their family doctor or dermatologist.
Check your moles and the rest of your skin frequently and if you discover anything suspicious or abnormal, get in to see a doctor, as soon as possible. Skin cancer is a very serious disease and just by checking your skin a lot, who knows, it may just save your life.
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