Noticing changes in your skin is important in the early detection of skin cancer. Most skin cancers are visible and can be diagnosed early before they spread to other parts of the body. It’s important to do a self-examination of your skin at least once a month. Be sure to also inspect your backside with a mirror. Be sure to take note of changes, including any of the following:
- Large brown spots with darker speckles located anywhere on the body.
- Appearance of dark lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, fingertips, toes, mouth, nose or genitalia.
- Translucent pearly and dome-shaped growths.
- Existing moles that grow, itch or bleed.
- Brown or black streaks under the nails.
- A sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens.
- Clusters of slow-growing pink or red scaly lesions.
It’s normal for people to have some brownish spots or growths. The American Academy of Dermatology’s ABCDE guide is helpful in assessing whether or not a mole or other lesion may be becoming cancerous:
- Asymmetry: Half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape or color.
- Border: Mole edges are irregular or blurred.
- Color: Mole color is not the same throughout.
- Diameter: Mole size is larger than one-quarter inch.
- Elevation: Mole becomes elevated or raised from the skin.
If any of these conditions occur, it’s important to make an appointment with a dermatologist right away. The doctor may do a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is or isn’t cancerous.