Have you ever noticed a mole on your skin and thought nothing of it? Maybe that mole is harmless, but there’s always a chance that small mole could be something more. That’s because people with abnormal-looking moles, also known as atypical moles, could eventually develop melanoma. If you have any atypical moles and a family history of melanoma, you are at a greater risk. Sun exposure can increase our risk of skin cancer but remember skin cancer can also develop in places that get little or no sun.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis, and it’s the most preventable cancer. Most skin cancer is caused by damage from the sun’s UV rays (ultraviolet radiation). This year, an estimated more than 70,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma—the most dangerous type of skin cancer—and almost 10,000 will die of the disease. Every year, more than two million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer—either basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma.

We should be doing a monthly skin check.  Check the back of your skin with a mirror or the help of a loved on. When checking for skin cancer and melanoma specifically, remember the ABCDE rule. Here's are images of these moles so you can be more aware of what skin cancer looks like.

  • “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
  • “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
  • “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
  • “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
  • “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

At the end of the day, be conscious about moles or other spots on your body. Catching and treating skin cancer early is the best way to prevent serious complications. Protect your skin wearing sunscreen and a hat,  avoiding the mid-afternoon sun and doing a monthly skin check and you will reduce your risk of skin cancer.

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