Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of the body? Your skin does many beneficial things, such as, cover your internal organs, protect us from injury and germs, helps control body temperature, protects from dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays, and helps your body make vitamin D, which comes from exposure to the sun.
We certainly know how important our skin is, and we would definitely be in trouble without it. Since your skin plays such an important role in protecting your body, you should keep it as healthy as you can. Even people who live the healthiest of lives might not be properly protecting their skin. Looking good with a tan is one thing; finding out too late about skin cancer is another.
Cancer is that word no one wants to hear. The talk, the speculation, the statistics become all too much, but it is a reality. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, killing about 10,000 people in the United States annually. In other words, Melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancer cases, but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths, and death rates continue to rise each year.
Everyone is at some risk for melanoma, but increased risk depends on several factors. However, people might be aware of what they are dealing with. The Risk factors for skin cancer include:
- Sun Exposure: Both UVA and UVB rays are dangerous to the skin, and can be the cause of skin cancer, including melanoma. Blistering sunburns in early childhood increase risk, but constant exposure is also a big factor.
- Moles: People with many moles are at an increased risk of developing melanoma. People with more than 50 moles are at a greater risk. Some people have irregular and unusual looking moles. This increases the risk of melanoma.
- Family History: Any person who has a first-degree relative (mother, father, siblings or children) diagnosed with melanoma has a fifty percent greater chance of developing a melanoma than the person who does not have a family history of melanoma.
- Skin Type: Fairer skin is at increased risk of developing melanoma.
- Immune system: Any person with a compromised immune system has an increase chance to develop melanoma.
It is important to know that there are other types of skin cancer, and it is good to know what type you have, so proper prognosis and treatment can be administered. Moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are usually harmless, but not always. It is so important to get to know your skin very well and to recognize any changes in the color of your skin, or to the moles on your body. Look for the ABCD signs of melanoma, and if you are skeptical, make an appointment with a physician immediately.
There is a method to check for Melanoma called the ABCDs method, which is a way to see if you have signs of skin cancer.
- Asymmetry: Draw an imaginary line through your mole. Do both sides look alike? If not, see your doctor.
- Border: Look at the outside edge of your mole. Are its edges sharp and easy to distinguish from surrounding skin? If the edges look ragged or fuzzy, see your doctor.
- Color: Check the color of your mole. Is it the same throughout or does it vary with shades of dark brown, black, white, red or blue? If it isn’t the same color throughout, see your doctor.
- Difference: Have your moles changed in size, shape or color? Are they suddenly itchy? Most moles on a person’s body share a common look; did you find one that looks different than the others? Do you have a new, changing mole or suspicious looking patch of skin? Any time you notice a difference in moles or on other parts of your skin, see your doctor.
As said before, skin cancer, specifically melanoma, is curable if detected early. You can prevent melanoma by protecting yourself from the sun and dangerous Ultraviolet (UV) rays. If you have a family history of skin cancer, then it is even more crucial that you take every precaution, and follow the ABCDs of detecting skin cancer.