Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. It is also the easiest to treat and prevent. Here’s how you can lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
Annual Skin Cancer Screening: It is recommended for adults to have an annual skin cancer screen with a dermatology specialist. Depending on your history of sun exposure, tanning bed use, family history, or personal health history, these screenings may be recommended more frequently.
An annual skin cancer screening consists of your provider looking at your skin from head to toe. They may use a dermatoscope or a special magnifier and light to better examine your moles.
Each month, you should also be performing your own self skin checks. The A, B, C, D, E’s of melanoma is a common method to help identify concerning lesions.
A: Asymmetry, moles that are not symmetric in shape
B: Border irregularity, moles that are not round and regular throughout
C: Color changes or different colors throughout mole
D: Diameter, generally more concerning if larger than the size of pencil eraser
E: Evolving, a mole that has changed over time is also concerning
If you notice any changes to your moles during your monthly self-skin exam, make an appointment with your dermatology specialist sooner than your yearly checkup. If a mole has concerns for skin cancer, your provider will be able to perform a biopsy. A biopsy involves taking a sample of the skin, which is sent to pathology to be able to examine the lesion under a microscope to determine if it is skin cancer.
Sunscreen: Wear sunscreen daily and all year. It is recommended to use an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply at least every two hours when exposed to the sun. When you are outside, try to avoid the sun when it is the strongest, usually between 10 am – 2 pm. Avoid indoor tanning beds as this may increase your chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.