Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Over 1.3 million people are diagnosed with it every year. Fortunately, if detected early, doctors can nearly always treat it. While dermatologists perform yearly skin cancer screenings, they also encourage people to examine themselves and their loved ones once a month for signs of skin cancer.
What are the ABCDEs?
The ABCDEs are the signs of possible melanoma, which is the deadliest type of skin cancer. They are as follows:
• A = Asymmetry
• B= Border
• C= Color
• D= Diameter
• E = Evolving
Asymmetry means that the two halves of a mole look distinctly different from each other.
Border means the mole has an irregular, jagged, or indistinct border.
Color refers to the fact that a normal mole is all one color, usually brown or black, and it is the same shade throughout. A cancerous mole can be several different shades and may even be several different colors.
Diameter describes the mole’s size. A normal mole will have a diameter smaller than that of a pencil eraser or around 6 mm, while a melanoma can be significantly bigger.
Evolving means the mole’s size, color, or shape is changing. It can also mean that the mole looks different from the other moles on the patient’s body.
How Do You Examine Your Partner?
When examining another person for skin cancer, you should examine their front and back. Ask them to raise their arms while you examine their sides. Examine their underarms, arms, hands, and even the spaces between their fingers.
Examine their scalp and the back of their neck. Part their hair to give yourself a better look. Check their back and buttocks. Examine their feet and the backs of their legs. When examining your partner’s feet, check their toes and the spaces between the toes.
In addition to possible melanomas, look for spots that are bleeding or itching. Also, make note of anything new. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of your partner’s moles so that you can track any changes over time.
How Do You Examine Yourself?
You will need a full-length mirror and a hand mirror so that you can examine the places you can’t readily see. You will follow the same order as the two-person exam.