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The Early Signs of Skin Cancer

No one has perfect skin. We all have freckles, small scars, odd areas of pigmentation and more that are normal for us. However, after 40, skin cancerand particularly after 50, skin changes because of sun exposure and the aging process. That's why your dermatologist in Indianapolis, Dr. Sonya Campbell Johnson at Dermatology Associates, wants you to perform skin self-examination and to see her yearly for a check-up. Skin cancer looks and feels different from other moles and marks on your skin; so know its early signs, and stay healthy.

Kinds of skin cancer in Indianapolis

There are three basic types: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. While all three affect the epidermis or outermost layer of the skin, basal cell and melanoma are in the deepest part of this layer. Also, basal cell typically grows on the face, hands and neck, while the other two types appear anywhere on the body, even on those areas consistently covered by clothing.

Additionally, you should know that melanoma is particularly worrisome because it spreads easily to other parts of the body. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma starts early, affecting people who are in their twenties. Basal cell carcinoma does not spread. All three kinds need an early diagnosis for the least invasive treatments and for a lasting cure.

Knowing the signs of skin cancer

The American Academy of Dermatology, along with your dermatologist in Indianapolis, urges you to know what skin cancer can look like and to observe your own skin each month for new growths or changes in existing moles. Here's an easy way to remember what to look for. It's called the ABCDEs of moles.

  • A stands for asymmetry. If you drew a line down the center of your mole, the shape and size should remain the same on both sides.
  • B means border. Borders of benign moles are smooth. Scallops or notches often indicate cancer.
  • C stands for color. A mole should be evenly shaded throughout.
  • D is diameter. Typically, moles are no larger than a pencil eraser. A larger size is a warning sign.
  • E means evolution. If a mole changes in color, shape, or texture or begins to itch or bleed, this may mean skin cancer.

Additionally, skin doctors use something called the ugly duckling sign. If you have a group of moles, and one noticeably differs from the others, or changes while the others do not, you may have a skin cancer.

What you can do

Basically, be vigilant about exams. Also, Dr. Campbell Johnson recommends:

  • Covering up in the hot sun
  • Applying sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Staying out of the sun during peak times (between 10 am and 4 pm)
  • Avoiding tanning beds

Also, please contact Dermatology Associates for a routine check-up or if you have any questions or concerns about the condition of your skin. Call for an appointment in Indianapolis: (317) 257-1484 or email at [email protected]

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