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How to Recognize Skin Cancer

By Paul Rothbart

The most common form of cancer is skin cancer. It's nothing to take lightly. As with any form of cancer, spotting it early is the key to successfully treating it. Fortunately, skin cancer occurs on the outside of the body and is easily visible. Any blemishes or lesions found on the skin should be carefully examined for the possibility of cancer. But how can you tell what is cancer and what is not? Here are the different types of skin cancer and how to recognize them.

The ABCDE Rule

Melanoma is one of the deadliest types of skin cancer. To remember the common signs of melanoma, use the mnemonic, "ABCDE." 

  • Asymmetry - A mole with an odd shape where the sides don't match
  • Border - Edges that are not clean, but jagged or notched
  • Color - Multicolored, brown or black, with patches of pink, red, blue, or white
  • Diameter - A mole that is larger than a quarter inch across, or about the width of a pencil eraser
  • Evolving - A mole that changed in size, shape, or color.

A mole that displays any of these characteristics should be taken seriously and professional medical attention should be sought.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

A basal cell carcinoma is less serious and easily treatable, but should not be ignored. I had one myself, and it was removed. A basal cell carcinoma can appear as a flat, firm, yellow area, similar to a scar. It may be a raised red patch that itches. An open sore that either doesn't heal, or that heals but keeps coming back may also be one. A basal cell carcinoma can appear as a pink growth, or as shiny, pearly bumps. These may have red or pink patches with blue, black or brown.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Like the basal cell, squamous cell carcinoma are easy to treat and less serious, but again, should not be ignored. Scaly patches which are red and may bleed are one sign of a squamous cell carcinoma. They may be growths that are raised, possibly with a low spot in the center. Growths that look like warts or sores that never heal may be squamous cell carcinomas. A mole showing any of these signs requires medical attention.

Skin cancer can be deadly and is nothing to take lightly. Moles and lesions should be inspected carefully and monitored for any signs that they may be a form of cancer. Any spot that is red, multicolored, itchy, or a sore that doesn't heal should be inspected and diagnosed by a medical profession. Don't take chances. Skin cancer is the most visible, so catch it early.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Downers Grove, Ill.

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