It’s May, which means it’s time to get your family outside and enjoy the warmer temperatures. It also means the sun’s rays are getting stronger as we head into summer months, so now’s a good time to think about skin cancer prevention. To raise awareness about melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and to encourage self-examinations, the American Academy of Dermatology has declared May Melanoma Awareness Month.
According to the AAD, 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, with one in five people in the U.S. expected to receive a skin cancer diagnosis sometime in their life. Fortunately, skin cancer can be detected early, since it’s the only cancer that can be seen on the surface of the skin. Not sure how to spot what could be a cancerous mark or mole? The AAD recommends talking to your doctor about how often you should check your skin, then using their body mole map during your self-exams to know what to look for when checking your spots.
During your exam, keep an eye out for any of the five characteristics that can make for a suspicious mole, known as the ABCDE’s:
Asymmetry: The mole is not round, and both halves don’t match
Border: The edges of the spot are uneven
Color: Different colors or shades throughout the mole
Diameter: Melanomas are typically larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, though they can be smaller
Evolving: Any sort of change in the shape, size, or color of the mole
For more tips on how to detect and prevent skin cancer, visit aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/.