Know Your Skin Cancer Alphabet


More people will be diagnosed with a skin cancer this year than all other cancers combined. Fortunately, most cases won't be life-threatening, but like all cancers, finding them early is key to lowering your risk of complications.

For skin cancers, that's a little like alphabet soup. Cotton-O'Neil Physician's Assistant Judy Dowd says people need to check their skin on a regular basis and be familiar with any moles and spots they might have, paying attention to the A, B, C, D, and E's.

Dowd says the "A" means asymmetry - most melanomas would not have matching halves. "B" is border - is it nice and smooth or is it irregular? "C" is color - if the color changes or it's a different color than anything else you might have. "D" is for diameter - does the size change significantly in a relatively short period of time? Finally, "E" is for evolving - does it look different in a couple months.

Dowd says anything unusual should get checked right away, and to prevent problems in the first place, apply a minimum SPF 30 sunscreen every single day. Dowd says we get more incidental sun exposure cumulatively, by doing things like walking to the car or walking into the office, than we do intentional.

Dowd says 80-percent of sun damage is done before we reach the age of 18. She says we can't undo that damage, but we can take action to prevent any further damage.

The Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center and Stormont-Vail HealthCare are offering free skin cancer screenings Saturday, June 9th. You can call Health Connections now for your appointment , 785-354-5225.

You can learn more information about skin cancer from the American Cancer Society.


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