Learn About The ABCDE Method And Stay Clear From Cancer

Summer is quickly approaching. So now is the time to remember a few helpful tips to keep yourself from getting burnt to the crisp.

It also happens to be Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time when we focus on understanding the causes, effects, and preventive measures of this potentially life-threatening disease. Skin cancer is primarily caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. It can lead to serious health issues, including the need for surgery or even death.

Now, let’s start with learning some random facts about your skin!

  • It’s the largest external organ you have!
  • We are constantly shedding old skin, which is then replaced by new skin cells.
  • Skin accounts for 10-15% of your body weight (this is news to me!).
  • The thickest part of your skin is on your feet; the thinnest is your eyelids.

Since most of us live for the long days of summer and the sunshine, it’s important to remember to stay covered and hydrated. Whether you’re using sunscreen (dermatologists recommend at least 30% SPF) or sun-protective clothing, it’ll keep you looking young and not as red if you’re on the fairer side like me.

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, let’s focus on one simple yet effective way to monitor your skin: the ABCDE methodThis straightforward approach empowers you to check moles and other spots for any changes as you age, providing you with the means to take control of your skin health.

1. A is for Asymmetry 

If you were to (theoretically) split your mole in half, would it be symmetrical on both sides? If it’s not, you need to watch for more changes!

2. B is for Border

Similar to the symmetrical standpoint, this could be concerning if the border is not round or looks irregular in any way.

3. C is for Color 

Moles on the skin should be all in one shade. If there’s a change in color from the border to the middle or anywhere in between, that’s not normal. (Red, blue, black, etc.) Any color change should be noted.

4. D is for Diameter 

Typically, melanoma (skin cancer) is recognized or diagnosed when a spot is 6 mm or larger. However, any size can still be a factor when looking at spots on your body. This is typically the same size as the end of an eraser on a pencil, which is how they gauge it.

5. E is for Evolution

This just means any sort of change to a spot, whether it’s color, size, or shape. If it looks different, go with your gut and get it checked out. Other signs of skin cancer include a sore that doesn’t heal, a new growth, or a change in a mole. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

The best thing to do is to see your primary doctor or a dermatologist and get things checked out. Additionally, family history can play an important factor in how often you might need to be seen for “skin checks” if there’s a history of skin cancer of any kind in your family. For those without a family history, doctors recommend getting a full-body skin check once a year. Avoiding being out in the sun during the highest points of the day (usually between 11 am and 3 pm) can also help lower your risk of skin damage. There is a difference between trying to get a tan and harming your epidermis!

So, make sure to be proactive this summer, and remember ABCDE while enjoying the sun!

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