It’s May, and you’re happy to be able to spend more time outdoors in the sunshine. However, too much exposure to the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays increases your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the most serious type.
May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. In the past 10 years, invasive melanoma cases — those in which the cancer has entered the dermis, the skin layer under the surface layer, or epidermis — have increased 27%. And that doesn’t count the noninvasive melanoma cases.
Is there any good news about melanoma? Yes. When melanoma is diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is more than 99%. That means it’s important to recognize warning signs of skin cancer.
At Twin Falls Dermatology & Aesthetics, LLC, certified dermatology physician associate Laurel Krupski sees cases of melanoma as well as the two other types of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma — and she encourages patients to get regular skin checks and watch their skin and moles for signs of trouble.
Who’s most at risk for melanoma? If you have fair skin, many moles or large moles, a weakened immune system, you’ve had previous skin cancers, or you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun over the years, whether for your job or during your leisure time, you have a higher risk of melanoma. However, anyone can get this deadly form of skin cancer.
Some cases of melanoma start in moles. Use this easy-to-remember ABCDE guide to melanoma symptoms that present on moles.
A stands for asymmetry, meaning the mark isn’t uniform. For example, half of your mole doesn’t look like the other half.
B represents the border of your mole. Is it jagged, blurry, and irregular? Most moles are round and well-defined.
C stands for color. If your mole varies in color from tan to brown to red, white, or blue, call our office for an appointment.
D represents diameter. If you have moles that are larger than the head of a pencil eraser, they should be checked.
E means evolving. Has your mole changed in shape or size? It could mean melanoma.
The ABCDE guide is helpful in spotting possible melanomas from moles. However, many times melanoma starts on unmarked skin, as do basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas. A sore on your skin that doesn’t get better or changes to your skin, such as an itchy spot or pain, could signal skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinomas can look like a brown, black, blue, or white raised bump on your skin or a rough, scaly patch of skin. Squamous cell carcinomas can also appear as scaly patches of skin, an open sore that bleeds or gets crusty, or a growth that may appear as a wart.
Any change in your skin, whether it appears on a mole or not, is important to check out with your dermatology team. Only a professional with dermatology training can determine whether or not your condition is a form of skin cancer or another skin ailment.
Call Twin Falls Dermatology & Aesthetics, LLC, today to schedule an appointment for a skin check and for all your skin health and aesthetic needs. You can also book an appointment online through this website.