Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells most often developed by exposure to the sun. Too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun or artificial sun such as tanning beds can damage DNA in skin cells. Over 80% of skin cancer is caused by overexposure to UV radiation.  DNA communicates to cells and tells them how to function. If enough DNA damage accumulates over time, it can cause the cells to start growing out of control, potentially leading to skin cancer. 

Changes are made to the skin because of the sun including effects of aging and an increased risk of developing wrinkles, freckles, liver spots and skin cancer. Significant impacts on the body related to sun exposure include tumors, skin discoloration, dilated small blood vessels, damaged elastic in skin tissue, damage to the eyes such as cataracts, pterygium and macular degeneration, premature aging, and precancerous and cancerous lesions on the skin. There are 3 main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma appears as small, smooth pearly or waxy bumps on the face or neck that present as a flat, pink, red or brownish in color lesion. Squamous cell carcinoma appears as a red nodule or as a rough, scaly, flat lesion that often becomes crusty, itchy and can bleed. Melanoma appears as a pigmented patch with an irregular appearance. Melanoma is the most serious because if left untreated can spread to other organs and be life-threatening. If caught and treated early, before it advances and spreads to other parts of the body, melanoma can almost always be cured. 

Detection of skin cancer begins with a visual assessment of the skin. The ABCs of skin help with both early detection and prevention of growth. The ABCDE acronym stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving for the characteristics of skin damage that dermatologists look for when diagnosing and classifying melanomas.  Asymmetry refers to one half of a mole that does not match the other. Border refers to the edges of the mole, specifically if they are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred as opposed to normal moles that are round or oval. Color refers to the uneven color of the mole. It may include shades of brown or black or patches of pink, red, white or blue. Diameter refers to whether a spot is larger than 6 millimeters across. Evolving refers to if the mole is changing in size, shape or color. 
If you notice any new spots on your skin, spots that appear different from any other, and any of the ABCs of skin cancer, make an appointment with THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology for early detection and prevention. Skin evaluations can be made by calling 602-867-7546 or visiting WEBSITE for more skin cancer and skin care information.