Mind and Body

The ABCDEs of skin cancer
Do you know how to spot the bad spots? It could be a beauty mark - or something worse. Here's what you should be looking for. 

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get skin cancer; it doesn't matter what color your skin is. But, typically, the fairer the skin, more likely you are to get it, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun, use tanning beds or live in an area that gets intense sunlight. 

A person is at increased risk if they have fair skin and blond or red hair and blue, green or gray eyes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology

The risk also increases if you've had bad sunburns, skin that burns or freckles instead of tanning, 50 or more moles, moles called "atypical nevi" or "dysplastic nevi," or had a close family member with the disease.

How to prevent skin cancer

To prevent skin cancer, follow these tips, as determined by the AAD:
* Never use a tanning bed. Research shows tanning beds increase your risk of skin cancer by 75 percent. 

* Wear sunscreen (even on cloudy days!) and apply lip balm every day. Make sure your sunscreen has a SPF of at least 30 and protects against UVA and UVB rays. 

* Wear clothes that protect you from UV rays, such as a jean jacket. 

* Always wear sunglasses. These, too, must offer protection against UV rays. Melanoma can occur in the eyes, too.

* Avoid spending time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is the strongest.

* Perform self-exams on your skin. Click through the slideshow to see what you are looking for. If you see something suspicious, make an appointment immediately to see a dermatologist. 

* Get screened regularly for skin cancer. 





"A" stands for asymmetry. Growths with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves, should be checked out by a doctor.



"B" stands for border irregularity. Moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders are cause for concern, as these are all characteristics of melanoma.


(American Academy of Dermatology )


"C" stands for color variety. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.


(American Academy of Dermatology )


D" stands for diameter greater than 5 millimeters. 

"We all have beauty marks, but if it becomes large, you should be concerned,"  Dr. Jody A. Levine, a dermatologist from Plastic Surgery & Dermatology of NYC, told FOXNews.com.


(American Academy of Dermatology )


"E" stands for evolving. Has the mole or skin lesion changed color, size or shape? Does it looks different than the others? 


(American Academy of Dermatology )

Basal Cell

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer, with an estimated 1 million new cases each year in the U.S.

(American Academy of Dermatology )

Basal Cell 2

Basal cell carcinoma can look like a red, scaly growth on the skin, or similar to a pimple. It could bleed or look like a cut that isn’t going away.

(American Academy of Dermatology )

Basal Cell 3

Any mark on the skin that cannot be attributed to a specific cause should be looked at, Levine says.

(American Academy of Dermatology )

Squamous Cell

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, with over 250,000 new cases per year estimated in the United States.

(American Academy of Dermatology )

Squamous Cell 2

Most cases of squamous cell carcinoma are caused by chronic overexposure to the sun.

Squamous Cell 3

Squamous cell carcinoma can metastasize if it starts on a mucous membrane such as the lips or eyes.

Related: 56% of Melanomas Not Found by Patients

(American Academy of Dermatology )


Who/What: American Academy of Dermatology's SPOT Skin Cancer™

Why: Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer.
° More than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.

° Of these cases, it is estimated that about 131,810 are melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which claims an estimated 9,180 lives annually. One American dies of melanoma almost every hour.

º The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent.

Vision: A world without skin cancer.

Mission: Increase public understanding about skin cancer and motivate positive behavior change to reduce the incidence of and mortality from skin cancer.

Objective: Raise public awareness about skin cancer and save lives.

What you can do: Wear orange on Melanoma Monday, the first Monday in May and help spread the word.

The ABCDEs of skin cancer

Do you know how to spot the bad spots? It could be a beauty mark - or something worse. Here's what you should be looking for. 

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