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How Do You Know if You Have Skin Cancer?

Let’s start this discussion with a surprising statistic — every day in the United States, 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer. While these numbers may seem terrifying, skin cancer has a very high survival rate, especially when it's caught in the earlier stages. This is why it’s important for you to recognize the signs of developing skin cancer.

To help, our dermatological experts here at Z-Roc Dermatology, led by Drs. Khongruk Wongkittiroch and Matthew Zarraga, gathered together the ABCs (and Ds and Es) of the common signs of skin cancer.

Types of skin cancer

To begin, it’s important to note that there are several different types of skin cancer, but the three most common are:

Basal cell carcinoma

Eight out of 10 skin cancer diagnoses are basal cell carcinomas, which start in the lower layer of your epidermis, which is also called the basal cell layer.

Squamous cell carcinoma

This type of skin cancer accounts for nearly two out of every 10 diagnoses and affects the outer layer of your epidermis, which houses flat squamous cells.

Melanoma

This type of skin cancer is more aggressive and causes the large majority of skin cancer deaths. Thankfully, melanomas account for less than 1% of all skin cancer diagnoses.

Signs of skin cancer

To help people recognize the signs of potential skin cancer, the medical community has come up with a simple acronym: ABCDE. These letters represent attributes of moles on your skin, and they break out like this:

Asymmetry

This describes a mole that isn’t uniform, but has one area that’s shaped differently from another area within the same mole.

Border

Check to see whether your mole has ragged, irregular, notched, or blurred edges.

Color

Most moles are the same color throughout, but potentially problematic moles feature different colors, including brown and black, as well as areas of pink, red, white, or blue.

Diameter

Be on the lookout for moles that are more than a quarter-inch in diameter.

Evolving

This attribute refers to moles that change in size, color, or shape.

Diagnosing skin cancer

While paying close attention to moles on your skin is a great first line of defense, the only way to find out whether you have skin cancer is to have us take a look. If we feel that your mole looks worrisome, we can remove some cells from the area (called a biopsy) and look for irregular or cancerous cells.

You should also note that moles can crop up anywhere on your body, including in places that you might not be able to see. For this reason, we urge you to see us for regular skin cancer screening.

If we do find evidence of skin cancer, we take immediate steps to eliminate the problem. Our team offers Mohs surgery, which is an innovative excision technique that removes the cancer with the least amount of collateral tissue damage (and scarring).

To stay one step ahead of skin cancer, contact our office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to set up a consultation. 

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