Signs of Skin Cancer that Should Be Checked by a Dermatologist

May 16, 2016

As the summer months come to an end, people are often proudly flaunting their new tanned skin. Although some may think it is a “healthy glow,” tanned skin could mean skin cancer down the road.

Skin cancer has several different appearances. Knowing what to look for and how to identify a suspicious mole or lesion is vital to early diagnosis and treatment.

“I am happy to see that we are becoming more aware of the damaging effects of sun exposure, but there is still much room for improvement,” says Michaela Overturf, MD, a dermatologist at Dermatology Associates of Nacogdoches.

Dr. Overturf helps patients diagnose and determine if a suspicious mole or place on the skin could mean cancer. At home, you can look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer to help you more easily identify a suspect skin condition.

  • A – Asymmetrical
  • B – Ragged Border
  • C – Nonuniform Color
  • D – Dimension: Larger than 6mm
  • E – Evolving/Changing

If you have one of the signs of skin cancer that matches any of these identifiers, you should see your dermatologist at once because it may not get better on its own. So often we put things off until it’s too late, but the possibility of skin cancer should never be one of those things.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually, affecting more than 2 million people. Melanoma, a more dangerous type of skin cancer, will account for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer in 2015.

Melanoma is almost always curable when it’s found in its very early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancers, it’s much more likely to grow and spread to other parts of the body where it can be hard to treat.

“In my training I have come to realize that melanoma can look like anything. I practice with a high level of suspicion because early detection can save lives,” says Dr. Overturf.

Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers start in the basal cells or squamous cells of the skin, which is how they get their names. These cells are found in the outer layer of the skin. Most basal and squamous cell cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the skin, like the face, ears, neck, lips and the backs of the hands.

“I think that some people will avoid the signs of skin cancer because they are nervous about the potential treatment they may need to undergo,” says Dr. Overturf. “The great thing about dermatology is that with early detection, most skin cancers can be completely cured with minimally invasive procedures. If you notice a spot that is new and/or changing/growing, please call the office, so we can get you an appointment ASAP.”

Dr. Overturf will be opening a new clinic in Nacogdoches starting August 20, 2015. “Nacogdoches is a beautiful, booming community,” she says. “Our new clinic will provide reliable access to care with friendly staff in a convenient location for this growing community.”

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