Of all the forms of cancer, if there is just one that we don’t take seriously enough, it is probably skin cancer. It is probably the most dangerous form of cancer and there are chances that you may not survive the treatment. So be aware of its effects and take it seriously.
There is some reason to believe that skin cancer not related to the melanocytes in the skin can be prevented by the simple act of using enough sunscreen in childhood.1 Melanoma, on the other hand, is a more aggressive form of skin cancer that is caused due to stem cell malfunction, and probably has very little to do with sunscreen use.2 In either case, it helps to know the symptoms of skin cancer early on. Known as the ABCDE model, these signs can help you observe changes in your moles over time, this warning you if cancer develops.3
1. Asymmetrical Moles
When you have moles all over the body, it can be quite hard to keep track of them. However, if there is a particular mole that seems to not match with the appearance of the others, it is a warning sign. If you draw a line through the mole, do the two halves match each other? If not, the mole is at risk for developing into cancer.4
2. Borders-Crossing Moles
Most moles have smooth, rounded borders. Malignant moles on the other hand have asymmetric borders that seem to shift over time. They may also look like they are going out of their borders.5 If you notice a change in how the borders of a mole look, it is best to avoid further delay and see a doctor immediately.
3. Moles That Change Color
Most harmless moles are all the same colour. A mole is usually a single shade of brown or reddish brown that matches the general tone of your skin. A mole at risk for developing into cancer appears in multiple different shades, or it may change color over time. Both these color changes are serious indicators of skin cancer.6
4. Increase In Mole Diameter
Of all the benchmarks, this is probably the lest reliable as some people are born with larger moles that grow with them until they attain puberty and stop growing. If you notice such a mole in children, diameter alone is not a cause for concern. In adults, however, if the mole seems to be growing larger even by the smallest measure, it is a warning sign of the cancer that is developing.7
5. Evolution Of The Mole
This attribute is fairly tricky to understand. If you have been keeping an eye on a certain mole over time, you would be able to notice if it evolves. Perhaps a mole on the skin has suddenly become bumpy. It could be that the mole begins to itch and form crusts for no apparent reason.8 If you notice any of these changes, it is time to see a doctor.
Perhaps quite luckily, skin cancer is the only form that can be observed and tracked over time, hopefully before it is too late. Hence, if you have family history of cancer, or if you live in a place with a thin ozone cover, or if you avoid sunscreen often, keep an eye out for how your moles behave over time.9
|↑1||Stern, Robert S., Milton C. Weinstein, and Stuart G. Baker. “Risk reduction for nonmelanoma skin cancer with childhood sunscreen use.” Archives of dermatology 122, no. 5 (1986): 537-545.|
|↑2||Rasheed, Suraiya, Zisu Mao, Jane MC Chan, and Linda S. Chan. “Is Melanoma a stem cell tumor? Identification of neurogenic proteins in trans-differentiated cells.” Journal of translational medicine 3, no. 1 (2005): 14.|
|↑3||Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer. American Cancer Society|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑6, ↑7, ↑8||The ABCDEs of Melanoma. Melanoma Research Foundation.|
|↑9||Melanoma Warning Signs and Images. Skin Cancer Foundation.|