Don't let the pandemic stop you from getting your annual skin check

Posted at 12:18 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 18:44:01-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - During the coronavirus outbreak, many doctor's offices postponed in person medical procedures and screenings and that included skin checks.

"We are in the summer now, and making sure you are protecting your skin from skin cancer is important," said Dr. Ryan Light with Tidewater Physicians Medical Group in Chesapeake.

Light says many people rely on skin exams to assess their risk for melanoma and other skin cancers annually.

"What we are looking for is three different types of lesions," he said. "That includes basal cell, melanoma and squamous cells."

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and more than 9,500 people are diagnosed every day. It is the most common type of cancer.

"We want to to catch melanoma as early as possible. Melanoma can be deadly," said Light. " With basal and squamous cells, it is really any lesion that is growing or changing or does heal."

Light says to use the ABCDE assessment:

  • A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
  • B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
  • C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.
  • D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
  • E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of cancer.

"Prevention is also key," said Light. "Most of us need to wear 30 SPF when we are outside for an extended period of time."

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