Skin Cancer

There are three different types of skin cancer - Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma. Each skin cancer looks different and all three are treated differently. Your dermatologist will be able to determine the type of skin cancer by doing a biopsy. If the biopsy results are positive for skin cancer, your doctor will determine the type of treatment you need based on the severity of the skin cancer.


Detecting Melanoma

Every two months you should examine your whole body to identify any changes to your skin, and routinely visit your dermatologist for a complete exam. Early diagnosis of melanoma can save your life. An existing or newly developed lesion could be sign of skin cancer and should be examined immediately. The lesions can have many irregularities, including being lopsided, have an uneven border or variations in color. A melanoma lesion may also have a diameter of 6mm or more. In addition, you may notice significant changes in the lesion. Between routine examinations by your dermatologists, self-exams are important.

Steps for a Self-Exam:

  1. Carefully look at you entire body in front of a mirror; first front to back, then the left and right sides with your arms raised.
  2. Bend your elbows and examine your forearms and upper arms and palms carefully.
  3. Examine the back of your legs and feet, including the soles and the spaces between your toes.
  4. Using a hand mirror, examine the back of your neck and scalp. For a closer look at your scalp, part your hair.
  5. Lastly, using a hand mirror, look at you back and buttocks.

Always pay attention to the A, B, C, D, and E's of moles:

  1. Asymmetry (the mole is lopsided, meaning one half does not match the other)
  2. Borders are irregular (edges are ragged or uneven)
  3. Color (varied shades of black, brown and tan)
  4. Diameter (the mole is greater than 6mm)
  5. Evolving (there is a significant change in size, shape or shade of color)

If you notice any of these changes, contact your dermatologist for an exam.