Ask the Dermatologist: Skin Cancer Screening

The last thing you’re probably thinking about on a cold wintery day is sun damage. But those sunburns you got as a kid, can catch up to you in your adult years. Your risk for developing Melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, doubles if you have had more than 5 sunburns. It’s why in our Ask the Dermatologist series, we’re starting with what dermatologists says everyone should begin – a skin cancer screening. Twin Cities Live reporter Kelli Hanson chatted with two people who were diagnosed with Melanoma, the most aggressive form of Skin Cancer. Kelli headed to Advanced Dermatology Care in White Bear Lake to find out how to catch these cancerous skin lesions early.

Melanoma: Moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are usually harmless. But not always. Anyone who has more than 100 moles is at greater risk for Melanoma. The first signs can appear in one or more atypical moles.

Look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma:

A: Asymmetry – If you draw a line through a mole, the two halves will not match, meaning it is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma.

B: Border – A benign mole has smooth, even borders, unlike melanomas. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

C: Color – Most benign moles are all one color — often a single shade of brown. Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.

D: Diameter – Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.

E. Evolving – Common, benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor. Any change — in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting — points to danger. *courtesy:

Basal Cell Carcinoma: BCCs are abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars and are usually caused by a combination of cumulative and intense, occasional sun exposure.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer.

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