Know Your ABC…DEs: How to Find Skin Cancer

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Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. An estimated 2.5 million cases will be diagnosed this year in the United States. Of those cases, nearly 100,000 individuals will develop invasive melanoma, the most serious and potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

3 Important Tips for Finding Skin Cancer

Perform Skin Self-Exams

Checking your body can help you find skin cancer early when it can be cured. These exams are especially important if you’ve been exposed to the sun or tanning salons, have light skin that burns more easily, have a family member with skin cancer, or were treated for skin cancer. If you see something on your skin that looks new or changing, see a dermatologist.

Know Your ABCDEs of Melanoma

The alphabet is an easy way to remember what to look for:

  • A is for asymmetry. If you draw a line through a mole, the two halves will not match.
  • B is for border. The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
  • C is for color. Having a mole with a variety of colors is another danger sign. Shades of brown, tan, black, red blue, or grey could appear.
  • D is for diameter. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of a pencil eraser (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
  • E is for evolving. Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting is a warning sign.

See a Doctor for a Screening

Ask your primary care doctor if you should see a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening. If your doctor recommends one, be sure to ask the dermatologist how often you should be checked. Some people need to be screened more often than others. During the screening, the doctor will carefully look at your skin, including your scalp, for any unusual marks or moles.

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Shanthi Sivendran, MD

Shanthi Sivendran, MD, is a physician with Lancaster General Health Physicians Hematology & Medical Oncology. Dr. Sivendran’s areas of expertise include melanoma, urinary system cancers (kidney, prostate, bladder and testicles) and breast cancer.

Education: Medical School–University College, Dublin; Residency–Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine; Fellowship–Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Call: 717-544-9400

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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