How to Spot Skin Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. And for those of us living along the world's most beautiful beaches, sunny days are just the norm. At any given time from February to October you can spot, so-called sun worshippers working to get that golden glow, but at what cost to their skin?

Your body does need vitamin D which comes from the sun, but too much of the sun can cause skin cancer. Basil cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and can usually be cut out without going too deep into the skin. Melanoma is the deadliest form. Nearly 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.

So what should you worry about? If you draw a line through a mole on your skin, and the two halves don't match, meaning it is asymmetrical, that is a warning sign for melanoma. The boarders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. Having a variety of colors is another warning sign. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on a pencil. Change in size, color, shape, elevation or bleeding, itching or crusting also point to danger. Fortunately, melanomas can be treated if caught early enough.

Knowing your skin is a key to prevention. Be sure to examine your skin once a month and have a professional examination once a year.

If you have questions or concerns, Gulf Coast Dermatology in Panama City is offering free skin cancer exams Saturday May 7 at all of its offices.

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