Knowing Your ABC's Can Help Protect You Against Skin Cancer

Posted on

Recognizing the signs of cancerous moles is important because early treatment can be the difference between life and death. It may be too difficult for some people to memorize all of the signs and what needs to be done. This is why keeping in mind the alphabet letters A-J can be beneficial.

Each letter represents a sign, symptom or course of action to take if you suspect a cancerous mole. Using this form of memory makes it easier to memorize the signs of skin cancer, which is often referred to as melanoma.

A: Asymmetrical - Ideally, a mole will be lateral on both sides. Think in terms of if you placed a divider in the middle of the mole. Both sides should look nearly the same. Noticeably uneven sides could be indicative of a cancerous or precancerous mole. 

B: Borders - Look at the borders around your moles. Pay special attention to whether or not they have a jagged edge appearance.

C: Color - The color of moles varies from brownish hues to black. Moles that have mixed color appearances rather than an even tone could be cancerous. 

D: Diameter - The diameter of a mole can be an indicator of whether or not it is potentially cancerous. Moles larger than the eraser on a pencil can be a sign of melanoma. 

E: Elevated - Moles that are elevated above the skin rather than flat in appearance can also be a sign of skin cancer. 

F: Firm - If moles are firm to the touch, you should take action. The best way to understand this is to think of cancer lumps.

G: Growing - Pay attention to whether or not your moles grow larger. This applies to the diameters and growing outwards. 

H: Hair - Some people may become alarmed when they see hair growing from their moles. The sole appearance of hair growing out of a mole is not enough to attribute to melanoma, but some cancerous moles have hair protruding from them.

I: Irritating or Itchy - Be aware of moles that irritate your skin when clothing touches them. You also need to be aware that bleeding moles require medical attention too. 

J: Just to be Safe - You need to see a dermatologist for all of the aforementioned signs. This is the only way to truly know whether your moles are cancerous or precancerous. Moles that are deemed noncancerous, but cause people discomfort can also be surgically removed by dermatologists. If you do have melanoma, skin cancer surgery is also an option.