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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Don't forget your annual screening

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Posted at 7:39 PM, May 05, 2021

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Coronavirus prompted many doctors' office closures, which postponed many medical procedures and screenings like skin cancer screenings.

"Don't forget, it has been a year with COVID-19 out there, and a lot of people went out in the sun because we were in shut in our houses a lot," said Dr. Ryan Light.

Light with Greenbrier Family Medicine says before you hit the beach or pool this year, don't forget about your annual skin cancer screening to check for three different types of cancer.

"Look for any lesion that changes over time, is ulcerated or bleeding, is growing or is something that is scaly and not healing," he explained.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and more than 9,500 are diagnosed daily.

"There is basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell and melanoma," Light said.

Melanoma is the most deadly. Light says doctors use the ABCDE tool to identify that type of cancer, and you too can check your own body for clues.

  • 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.

Light also said to slather on the sunscreen before going outside.
wtkrLatheathering up on the sunscreen is a simple and easy preventative measure.Light says also lather up with sunscreen when you go outside.

"Use an SPF of 30 or higher and at least an ounce, and apply every 2 hours at least," Light said.