ABCD of Skin Cancer can save your life before its too late

SCF-ActinicKeratosis--002_620x350How to avoid skin cancer? There’s no surefire strategy, but experts say it’s vital to minimize your exposure to harsh sunlight (with sunscreen, wraparound sunglasses, protective clothing, etc.).

In addition, periodically checking your skin can help you spot skin cancer at its earliest stages,  when treatment is most likely to be effective. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends monthly self-exams in which you check all of your skin, including between your fingers and toes, on your scalp, on your back and buttocks, etc.

According to the American Melanoma Foundation, any mole or pigmented area that shows any of the four warning signs of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer:

  • A is for asymmetry – half of the mole doesn’t match the other half;
  • B is for an irregular border – often notched uneven, or blurred;
  • C is for varied color – shades of brown and black are present;
  • D is for diameter – a mole that spans more than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser – is more likely to be a melanoma.

Even if you can recite the skin cancer ABCD’s, it’s helpful to be able to focus on “precancer”, when treatment is effective and can save your life.

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