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San Clemente Journal

The Signs of Skin Cancer

May 05, 2005 03:45PM ● Published by Don Kindred


    “Summer is in full swing and everyone is getting out into the sun. As vital as the sun’s rays are for our health, excess amounts may cause changes to the skin that may be warning signs of a potentially far more serious condition. 
     Everyone knows what steps to take to keep safe in the sun, right? Sunscreen, sunglasses, clothing protection and spending some of those hot hours in the shade. But what about your skin? Would you know what signs your body might be providing you as the early signs of skin cancer?
     Melanoma – the name given to the most serious form of skin cancer – if found and diagnosed early, can be cured. In its early stages, it is still thin and is limited to the skin’s outermost layer and so can be removed and cured 100%. Waiting for the disease to spread into less superficial layers of the skin however can be deadly. Keeping an eye on the changes to your skin can give you this time advantage. Here’s how:
Moles on your skin might alter in the following ways – and their changes are the early warning signs of melanoma. 
• The size may get larger suddenly or continuously over time
• The color will begin to vary or combinations of color will form
• It begins to elevate higher off the skin – a flat mole may rapidly increase in height 
• The surrounding skin becomes red or begins to develop colored blemishes
• The surface may begin to get scaly or erode. Crusting and ulceration are signs of a much more advanced case of the disease.
• Itching sensations are one of the most common early symptoms. However, it is important to recall that skin cancers are usually painless.

An excellent source of information on skin cancer can be found at www.skincancer.org. They have devised the ABCD’s of symptoms watching for melanoma. 
A - Asymmetry – Most common moles on our bodies are symmetric. An excellent warning sign of early melanomas are their asymmetry. Drawing a line through the middle would not create two matching halves. 
B - Border Irregularity – Common moles are smooth around the edges and have even borders surrounding. The borders of early melanoma are very often uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. 
C - Color Variability – Most of our everyday moles are a single shade of brown. One of the first signs of melanoma is the varying shades of brown, black or tan that will surface. As they progress – other colors such as red, blue and white may also appear. 
D - Diameter – Common moles tend towards maintaining a diameter no larger than a pencil eraser. Early melanoma moles tend to grow larger than common moles. 
Knowing what to look for and keeping your eye on any changes that may surface on your skin are your greatest weapons against the potential progression of skin cancer. With the warning signs in hand, you can make educated examinations of your own skin at all times and be aware what any kinds of changes, both subtle or rapid, may mean about your own good health. As always, you should contact your doctor if you notice any of the above mentioned changes. b

For more information you may contact Dr. Ebrahimzadeh at (949) 369-6993
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