Skin Cancer (Melanoma) can develop anywhere on your body, so keeping an eye out for specific skin cancer signs is a practice you should master.
When it comes to protecting our skin from sun damage, many of us are guilty of not taking the necessary precautions. What some of us don’t realize is that over time, exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause significant damage to your skin — damage more problematic than wrinkles and age spots.
We’re talking about melanoma, one of the most common and dangerous cancers out there.
Melanoma of the skin is typically formed when melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin, are continuously exposed to natural and artificial ultraviolet rays. The mark you see on your skin develops when the exposed melanocytes distribute unevenly and grow in clusters.
Only a dermatologist can determine if you have suspicious tissue that might be skin cancer. But by familiarizing yourself with the following warning signs and performing at-home check-ups for any irregular looking spots on your body, you can dramatically decrease your chances of developing melanoma.
If you draw a line down the middle of the mark, both sides should mirror one another. If they do not, it could be a sign of cancer.
Does the spot have irregular or smooth borders? Spots with irregular borders can be a sign of skin cancer. Check for redness surrounding the spot, as well.
Pay attention to the color of the mark. Is it an even color? Does it have multiple colors? Or is it a very dark shade? If the spot has any of these characteristics, it could be cancerous.
Is the size of the spot larger than a pencil? Spots larger than 6mm in diameter could be a big warning sign, especially if they continue to grow.
If the mark changes rapidly in any way, get it checked. Non-cancerous moles and marks on the skin stay a consistent size, shape and colour.
If the newly developed mole has grown in an elevated manner quickly, this could be a warning sign that something is wrong.
Check the mole or mark to see if it is firm to the touch. If it is not soft like normal moles, it may need to be checked.
If the mole continues to grow after three weeks, this could be a red flag. Most benign moles will stop growing after a short amount of time.
The mark could be cancerous if it bleeds often and never seems to heal, especially when there was no previous injury to the area.
If the spot is painful in any way, get it checked. Marks and moles on your skin should not cause discomfort.
When checking your skin for melanoma, remember to compare the spot in question to every other freckle, mole or mark on your body. If it is the “ugly duckling” of the bunch, you should probably get it looked at by a professional. Simply put, if it doesn’t look right, chances are it isn’t.
It’s never too late to take control of your skin’s health. By educating yourself about the warning signs, you can significantly decrease the chances of developing melanoma to keep your skin healthy and cancer-free.
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