More people throughout the world are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other type of cancer. Most physicians agree that almost all skin cancers, if detected and treated in the early stages, are curable. Therefore, everyone should be able to recognize the signs of skin cancer and report them to their doctors.
There are five primary characteristics of skin cancer. These signs can be easily memorized; they correspond with the first five letters of the alphabet. They are often referred to as the ABCs, or ABCDEs, of skin cancer.
The first sign is designated ‘A’ for asymmetry. Most malignant skin growths have an irregular shape. The second sign, ‘B’, reminds readers that cancerous tumors often do not have regular, easily distinguishable borders. Color is denoted by ‘C’, reminding people that cancerous growths are frequently multicolored in appearance, and may be black, white, brown, red, or blue.
‘D’ is used to describe the diameter of these growths. Tumors larger than ¼ inch in size are much more likely to be cancerous than benign. Finally, the letter ‘E’ is used to designate elevation. This is because neoplasms are frequently elevated above the skin’s surface, and their surfaces typically appear uneven.
The diameter, or size of the skin lesion, is described by “D,” and reminds people that growths that are greater than a quarter of an inch in size should be evaluated by a medical professional. The final letter in the mnemonic is “E,” which refers to elevation. Skin cancers are often raised above the surface of the skin, and have an uneven surface.
Besides these five signs, other characteristics of cancerous tumors are sores or pimples that bleed or drain fluid. They may scab over, but do not heal. Usually, they open and begin to drain once more. Sometimes, these sores may hurt or be tender when touched or probed. At times, they may itch. Most of the time, however, these sores do not hurt or itch.
People who have fair skin or freckles, or are frequently exposed to the sun for long periods of time may be at risk for skin cancer. Other people who are at highest risk of developing some type of skin cancer are those who have had it previously, or who have a family member with a history of skin cancer. If you are one of these people, it is especially important to be aware of these signs of skin cancer. Successful treatment may depend on your quick recognition of a cancerous tumor!