With warmer weather, longer days and more time spent outdoors, it’s no surprise the American Academy of Dermatology chooses May to observe Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection & Protection Month.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with estimates that one person in five will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. Detected early, skin cancer is almost always easily cured. However, left unchecked or addressed, and skin cancer — especially melanoma — can have fatal consequences. On average, one person in America dies from melanoma every hour.
The AAD recommends following these ABCDE steps to stay vigilant in checking for melanoma.
- Asymmetry — If one half of a spot doesn’t look like the other
- Border — If the spot has an irregular or poorly defined skin border
- Color — If the spot has a number of colors or shades next to each other
- Diameter — Melanomas are usually larger than the size of a typical pencil eraser
- Evolving — If the spot looks different from other spots, or has noticeably changed in size, shape or color, since the last time you checked
If you see any of these symptoms, please don’t delay. It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.
Get in the habit of conducting a skin self-exam at least once a month, paying close attention to every mole, skin lesion, spot or freckle you see. Ask for assistance for those hard to see places, and remember, that skin cancer doesn’t just develop in areas that are regularly exposed to the sun.
Checking your skin only takes a few minutes and it could be a life-saving activity.