4. Know the difference
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, more often than not it will be of one of two types - basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Based on their size and location, they can be treated and cured in various ways, including topical chemotherapy, lesional destruction and specialized surgery.
Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, but is often serious if not detected and treated early - accounting for the most skin cancer-related deaths in the US. With that in mind, keep these detection-based criteria (ABCDE) in mind when evaluating any moles on your body:
- Asymmetry: Moles are generally symmetrical. If you find one that looks asymmetrical, notify your dermatologist.
- Border: Regular moles usually have distinct, smooth borders while melanomas have scalloped edges and uneven borders.
- Color: Moles are commonly brown or black. Therefore, be weary of any moles that have an uneven distribution of such common colors or those that are developing multiple colors, including shades of red, blue and white.
- Diameter: Melanomas are at least the size of a pencil eraser or greater than 6 millimeters.
- Evolution: Active evolution of any mole in terms of the aforementioned features as well as any mole that is not healing or symptomatic is critical to the diagnosis of melanoma.