Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer

If you identify any strange or new spots on your skin that you think could possibly be signs or symptoms of skin cancer, it is always best to see your primary care physician or dermatologist for a complete skin exam and provide a biopsy, if needed. The sooner a skin cancer diagnosis is determined, the better chance of a positive treatment outcome.

Early Detection Begins With Self-Examinations

Since one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime, we recommend that men and women of all ages should get to know every square inch of their skin. By becoming familiar with your moles, freckles, and birthmarks and checking your skin monthly, you’ll be more likely to identify changes or new growths.

This involves performing monthly self-exams to check for skin cancer signs and symptoms. It’s best to keep a record of your findings on a body map. On a diagram of the body, you simply make marks that correspond to the marks on your skin, then draw lines out to the margin to record approximate size, color, and date. Use the same map to record your findings each month. This is an easy and effective way to identify new spots or changes in existing spots.

With each self-exam, you’ll become more familiar with what is normal for you, so anything unusual will draw your attention quickly and you can have it checked out by a professional.

Know Your Skin Cancer ABCDEs

If you are prone to freckles or moles, you may find it harder to determine which spots are normal and which require further evaluation. There are common signs that can help you determine if your spot is troublesome.

These are commonly referred to as the ABCDE Rule and include:

  • A for Asymmetry: Half of the mole or birthmark doesn’t match the other half.
  • B for Border: Irregular, jagged, blurry or notched edges.
  • C for Color: Non-uniform color that includes different shades of black or brown or red, white, pink or blue patches.
  • D for Diameter: The growth is more than ¼ inch in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser.)
  • E for Evolving: The mole is growing or changing color or shape.

Not all skin cancers follow these rules, but many do. When in doubt about any mark on your skin that seems unusual, be cautious and have it looked at by a dermatologist.