Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, and, unfortunately, we tend to accumulate growths and/or spots on our skin from cumulative sun damage as we age. Some of these spots are benign and some are cancerous; therefore, it is important to be able to distinguish which spots may be harmful. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Out of those three, basal cell is most common, but the most serious type is melanoma.
Individuals should examine their skin for a new spot, bump or growth that itches, burns, bleeds or changes color or size. Specifically, with melanoma, individuals should use the ABCDE guidelines when examining their bodies:
A – Asymmetry
B – Border Irregularity
C – Color variation and/or change
D – Diameter more than 6 mm (pencil eraser size) and/or change in diameter
E – Evolving – a history of change
New, rapidly growing or changing moles that bleed should be examined by a dermatologist.
If you are concerned about a spot or growth on your skin, it is important to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or a dermatologist as soon as possible to be professionally examined. Like all cancer, the sooner it’s detected, the better the treatment outcomes.
Dr. David C. Kowalski is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. He received his medical degree from Marshall University School of Medicine in West Virginia. Following his Internal Medicine residency at Wake Forest University, Dr. Kowalski completed specialty training in dermatology at the University of South Florida. He went on to receive further training to specialize in laser surgery and other cosmetic procedures. Dr. Kowalski lectures locally and regionally on dermatology topics. He also acts as a consultant to companies in the dermatology product arena. Dr. Kowalski is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.