As one of the most common forms of cancer affecting over 5 million individuals in the U.S. each year, regular monitoring for skin cancer should be a part of every self-care routine. When it comes to skin cancer treatment success, early detection is key. Fortunately, skin cancer is easier to spot than other forms of cancer, and with a bit of routine vigilance and awareness of the warning signs, keeping your skin healthy and cancer-free is possible.
Excess ultraviolet radiation from too much sun exposure is the primary culprit behind the development of skin cancer, but there are other risk factors to be aware of. A family history of skin cancer, living at a higher altitude, age, and having a lighter skin tone all increase your risk. Despite the misconception that people with darker skin or people with little sun exposure aren’t at risk, skin cancer can affect everyone.
So, how often should you check your skin, what should you look for, and what can you do about it if you notice a problem?
Skin Check Recommendations
Every month, do a thorough self-examination and look for any of the abnormal signs outlined below. You can use a small mirror, or ask a family member for help if that’s appropriate. The entire body and areas regularly exposed to a lot of sunshine should be thoroughly investigated.
According to the American Cancer Society, anyone aged 20-40 should invest in routine skin cancer screening in Philadelphia at least every three years. After age 40, it’s recommended to seek a professional evaluation every year. Of course, these guidelines are general recommendations, and if you have a family history of skin cancer or have other heightened risk factors, you should seek a dermatology inspection more frequently.
What To Look For?
The ABCDEs of early skin cancer prevention is easy to remember. A cancerous growth can appear with any of the following:
- A: Asymmetrical Growths
- B: Borders That Are Bumpy, Uneven, or Blurred
- C: Colors Like White, Pink, Blue, or Red
- D: Diameter Larger than 6mm (~A Pencil Eraser)
- E: Evolving Shape or Size
It’s especially important to keep an eye on moles, any areas that have been frequently burned, and take note of freckles and other dark spots you have. You can even keep a sheet tracking any spots in which you have noticed a change. This can provide your dermatologist with helpful information during your skin check.
A Dermatology Visit Is Always Worth Your Time
Every suspicious skin lesion should always be evaluated by a professional eye. Our dermatologist in Willow Grove, PA specializes in early detection and can quickly help you determine if a new growth is harmless or deserves attention. If a problem is identified, we offer a variety of safe and effective treatments for every skin type.