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How to Identify Skin Cancer

Summer Tips: Identifying Skin Cancer

Why identification is important?

Skin cancers generally share common characteristics and are identifiable as long as you know what you are looking for. Generally called the ABCDEs of skin cancer, these are key features of skin cancer that differentiate it from other harmless growths such as moles.


Most benign lesions like moles are symmetrical. That is, if you draw a line and divide the lesion in equal halves, the left side would look just like the right side. One of the features of skin cancer is that the lesions are often asymmetrical.


Borders or boundaries that demarcate the lesion are often clear and identifiable in non-cancerous growths such as moles. That is, the lesion and normal skin are separate and the borders are clear. In skin cancer, the borders are often irregular and uneven.


While most common lesions are composed of a single color, skin cancers such as melanoma will often have varied colors in shades of brown, or black. With progression other colors such as white and blue can also appear.


Skin cancers grow larger than the common mole even at an early stage. If a lesion becomes larger than 6mm, consider it a warning sign.


Skin cancers are constantly growing and changing tumours. Any lesions that are quickly changing to growing should be considered suspect and inspected by a dermatologist.

Skin cancer identification is so important because skin cancer is one of the few cancers that can be seen by the naked eye, and identified early. If identified at an early stage, the cure rate is extremely high, well over 95%.

Thus, it is important that people understand the basics of skin cancer identification because they will be the first ones to notice a problem that initially prompts them to see a doctor. There may be rare cases where skin cancer is more difficult to identify.

For this reason, if you suspect that something is a bit odd, visit your dermatologist who can make a better judgment or do a skin test. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to skin cancer.

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