How to Identify Warning Signs of Skin Cancer: The Nine Most Important Characteristics to Look For

To minimize your risk of developing skin cancer, the best course of action is to know your skin well and exam it regularly. Why? First, skin is the largest organ on the human body and it deserves attention and care. Second, early detection is crucial, especially since some common types of skin cancers are curable (An exception is melanoma, which is malignant and the deadliest.).

Normal moleSkin cancer can occur just about anywhere on the skin, but most often on the areas exposed to the sun — the scalp, neck, face, lips, ears, arms, hands, and legs. It can also appear in odd places, such as between your toes, underneath your nails, and even around your genitals. With that in mind, here are some characteristics on what to look out for, particularly regarding moles, bumps or skin spots:

Melanoma borderSize: Any new or growing blemish bigger than 5 mm (or a pencil eraser).

Border: Moles or bumps with an irregular border or ragged edges.

Melanoma colorColor: A combination of more than one color.

Height: Uneven surface or bumpy appearance.

Asymmetry: Different appearance on one half compared with the other.

Texture: Scaly and hard, or scaly patch of skin not soothed by lotion or other remedies.

Fluid: Signs of fluid or blood.

Pain: Failure of sores to heal after a week or two.

Evolution/Change: Any changes in size, border, color, surface and etc.

What to do next?
If you notice any of the above signs, check with your doctor who can let you know whether it’s a benign growth or cancer. If necessary, a biopsy will be performed.

Expert Recommendation: Schedule an annual skin cancer screening.

Image credit: The Skin Cancer Foundation
(Top right: a normal mole; middle: malignant melanoma; and bottom: malignant melanoma)

For more information about Cancer Risks & Prevention, visit CancerPreventionDaily.

10 thoughts on “How to Identify Warning Signs of Skin Cancer: The Nine Most Important Characteristics to Look For

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