While texting can make it challenging to keep up with the latest acronyms, when you live in sunny San Antonio it pays to also pay attention to a simple letter series — A, B, C, D, and E. Those five letters are an easy way to remember five steps in identifying growths that could be skin cancer.
As Texans, most of us are aware of the dangers presented by the sun. We know that greasing up with baby oil and sitting out on the rooftop patio is not the best idea in the world. Nor is playing golf without a hat.
The key to beating skin cancer is to catch it early. Toward that end, at Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics we want our patients to be knowledgeable about the warning signs, so here is some additional information on skin cancer.
Who gets skin cancer?
If you’re fair-skinned, you probably have friends with darker skin tones who seemingly never get even a pre-cancerous skin growth. All the while, when you come to Bucay for your regular checkup, it seems like there isn’t enough liquid nitrogen to go around! It all comes down to melanin. Melanin is the pigment in the skin that helps protect it from the sun. Melanin is what is responsible for turning the skin a darker tone (tanning) after receiving sun exposure. This is a protection mechanism.
The problem is, people with fair skin have less melanin so they are less protected. The ultraviolet rays from the sun can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing them to mutate into cancerous cells. It is estimated that 40 to 50% of people with fair skin (who live to be at least 65 years of age) will develop at least one skin cancer in their lives.
If you have fair skin, you may have already had the more common forms of skin cancer — squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas. They develop from the amount of overall sun exposure. If you spend a lot of time outdoors you’ll likely develop one of these two skin cancers.
Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, isn’t thought to come from prolonged sun exposure, but from the intensity. It is believed that melanoma is triggered by the scorching sunburns where the person’s skin blisters and peels afterwards. Research has shown that just one blistering sunburn during childhood doubles a person’s risk for developing melanoma later in life.
Know your ABCDEs
These five letters can come in handy when looking for skin cancers on your skin.
- Asymmetry — If one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half, that’s a concern. Normal moles are symmetrical.
- Border — If the border or edges of your mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular, that is a reason to call us at Bucay. Melanoma lesions often have irregular borders.
- Color — Normal moles are a single shade throughout. If your mole has changed color or if it has different shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red, then it should be checked.
- Diameter — If a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil it needs to be checked.
- Evolving — If a mole evolves by shrinking, growing larger, changing color, itching or bleeding, or other changes it should be checked. Melanoma lesions often grow in size or gain height rapidly.
Schedule a consultation
In sunny San Antonio, it pays to pay attention to your ABCs + DE, when it comes to your skin. Plus, a yearly skin check is a great idea to catch skin cancers early on before they become really dangerous. Call our La Casita (210-692-3000) or Sonterra (210-370-9995) locations to make your appointment.