Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy in the world’s population. Leading researchers theorize that nearly every case of skin cancer is curable if it is detected early enough. For this reason, learning about signs of skin cancer can literally save your life!
The signs of skin cancer can be described by a popular alphabetical mnemonic, or memory trick. Commonly known as the ABCs of skin cancer, each letter indicates a certain characteristic of those skin sores, or lesions, which may be cancerous. For example, “A” refers to asymmetry, because cancerous skin lesions are often irregularly shaped.
The second sign of a cancerous lesion, designated as “B,” is a reminder that skin cancers, unlike normal moles or other skin tumors, often lack clearly defined borders. “C” stands for color, because cancer sores are often red, blue, white, or black in appearance, and look very different from benign skin growths.
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.
Other signs that characterize this type of cancer include the presence of sores that do not heal. These sores may begin to bleed or drain yellowish fluid for a time, then scab over and appear as though they are healing. They do not heal, however, but begin to drain and then scab over again.
Occasionally, cancerous tumors may grow from a mole or freckle. More often, however, these tumors appear as new growths on the surface of the skin. The presence of a new growth that can be described by any of the letters described above is a red flag; persons who discover these growths on their body should see a physician as soon as possible.
Although it is somewhat unusual, these sores may sometimes be painful or tender. Occasionally, they can itch. Most often, however, they do not cause tenderness or itching.
If you are an individual with fair or freckled skin, or if you frequently experience prolonged exposure to sunlight, or if anyone in your family has ever had skin cancer, be aware of these signs of skin cancer. Identifying a sore that may be skin cancer in its early stage may save your life!