Now that summer is unofficially here, doctors are warning once again that too much sun can cause devastating skin cancer, and since 10,000 Americans die from melanoma every year, it's a warning worth taking seriously.
When it comes to skin cancer, early detection usually makes the difference between life and death. That means learning how to recognize suspicious moles and getting to the doctor quickly if you see one.
Melanoma begins in moles which can be easily removed. But if left untreated, cancer can spread from the mole to vital organs.
Dr. Crystal Moore, a pathologist in Chesapeake, Virginia, told CBN News how ordinary people can learn to recognize suspicious moles.
"The vast majority of skin cancers are usually identified by the patient themselves," she said. "And knowing good techniques for analyzing our skin is as easy as A,B,C,D,E."
Here Are the ABCDEs of Melanoma:
- Asymmetrical: One half looks different than the other half.
- Borders are uneven: The edges are raggedy, difficult to define, not smooth.
- Color is varied: More than one color or uneven distribution of the same color can be a sign of melanoma.
- Diameter is larger than 6 millimeters: This is about the same size as a pencil eraser.
- Evolving moles are suspicious: these are moles that have changed, such as the color, size or feel.
"It's not what you remember last month or the month before," Dr. Moore explained. "If it's bothering you, if it's itchy, if it's irritated, make sure you bring that to the attention of your physician."
Nine out of 10 melanoma cases are caused by sun exposure and tanning beds.
Here's how to protect yourself:
- Avoid tanning beds
- Before going into the sun apply 30 SPF sunscreen or higher
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after getting wet
- Limit sun exposure to early morning or evening
- Wear a hat and protective clothing
- Seek shade when possible