The ABCDs of Skin Cancer

  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology
  • "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.
  • "C" stands for color variety. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.
  • "D" stands for diameter greater than 5 millimeters. "We all have beauty marks, but if it becomes large, you should be concerned," says Dr. Jody A. Levine, a dermatologist from Plastic Surgery & Dermatology of NYC.
  • Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer, with an estimated 1 million new cases each year in the U.S.
  • 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.
  • Any mark on the skin that cannot be attributed to a specific cause should be looked at, Levine says.
  • 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.
  • Most cases of squamous cell carcinoma are caused by chronic overexposure to the sun.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma can metastasize if it starts on a mucous membrane such as the lips or eyes.

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