How to Tell if a Spot on Your Skin is a Sign of Cancer
Treating and educating patients about the dangers of melanoma is some of the most important tasks we perform at our Wilsonville dermatology clinic. Perhaps it’s the cloudy skies we typically enjoy here in the Pacific Northwest or the long months of rain that encourage us to revel outside when the sun shines, but Oregon has the fifth highest melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer- rate in the country.
This is because intermittent exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is particularly dangerous, and Oregon natives have a tendency to enjoy the sun between cloudy days. It is a good idea to know how to tell if a spot on the skin is dangerous.
Each year roughly 2,200 Oregonians receive a melanoma diagnosis. And every year roughly 150 Oregonians will die from the disease.
If left untreated, melanoma will spread and become lethal. Fortunately, when caught early, melanoma has one of the highest survival rates of any form of cancer.
Knowing the potential signs of skin cancer can make all of the difference when it comes to receiving the early diagnosis and treatment needed to stop this deadly disease in its tracks. When it comes to skin cancer, all you need to keep in mind is ABCDE.
Understanding the Early Signs of Skin Cancer
The warning signs of melanoma can be remembered by using the letters: ABCDE.
A stands for asymmetry which means that one half is not a mirror image of the other half.
B is for border irregularity, meaning that instead of even round borders, the borders are jagged or pigment extends from the edges.
C is for colors as spots with multiple colors are more concerning than spots with one color.
D is for diameter because on average, melanomas are larger than normal moles.
E is perhaps the most important criteria and stands for enlarging because growing lesions are of particular concern.
If you have a spot that you are concerned about, consider making an appointment, as early detection of skin cancer is crucial. We offer full body skin checks in all of our offices, which are recommended on a regular basis.
Healthy Skin Means a Healthier Body
In addition to skin cancer screenings, we offer a variety of treatments for skin cancer including Mohs Micrographic surgery in our Salem and Wilsonville offices. This technique, designed by Dr. Frederick Mohs, combines surgery with on-site pathology which allows for the highest cure rate of any method to treat skin cancer and provides the best cosmetic results.
While Mohs surgery is primarily used to safely treat early stage melanoma, the surgery can also be used to help treat the two most common forms of skin cancer: squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. Even though both of forms of the disease can be deadly if allowed to spread, neither pose the same kind of immediate danger as melanoma.
If you have noticed anything unusual with your skin or simply feel as if something isn’t right, we encourage you to schedule a skin cancer screening with any dermatologist at our Wilsonville dermatology clinic. Don’t take any chances with your long-term health, as a little caution can make all the difference. Know the signs of skin cancer and take action if you notice something is wrong. It could save your life.
–Dr. Bremmer is certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a member of the American College of Mohs Surgery