The ABCDE’s of Melanoma, that is. May is Skin Cancer Awareness month and an excellent time to brush up on your knowledge. For instance, did you know that nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer in the U.S. each year? Or that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during the course of their lifetime?
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 2.8 million people are diagnosed annually in this country. Although rarely fatal, it can be quite disfiguring if left untreated and allowed to grow.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer and evidence shows its incidence is on the rise. About two percent of squamous cell carcinoma patients – between 3,900 and 8,800 people – died from the disease in the U.S. in 2012.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Although it accounts for less than two percent of skin cancer cases, on the flip side it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths. The good news is it can effectively treated when it’s detected early enough. The American Academy of Dermatology provides a handy infographic to help you recognize the signs. Just click on the link at the top of this post.
It’s definitely important to know the ABCDEs of melanoma but you must couple your new-found knowledge with a monthly skin cancer self-examination. Basically you’re looking for changes in the shape or size of spots or moles and other irregularities. Focus on your neck, chest and torso, and use a bright light, full-length mirror, hand-mirror and blow dryer to inspect hard-to-see areas such as the scalp and back of the neck. If you can, enlist a spouse or partner to help you. Reference the infographic once more for step-by-step instructions.
Of course, make an appointment to come into our offices if you notice any irregularities. You should plan on scheduling an annual professional skin cancer screening regardless. It’s an easy, non-invasive two to three minute visual inspection and another preventative measure to prevent you from becoming just another statistic.