Trying to look after our skin means making sure that we’re staying aware of what could happen to it. One of the things we all hate to consider, but can’t forget is the potential for some form of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most threatening form and early detection is key to handling it. You may wonder how you can aid in the detection of cancer when there are so many tests out there to determine just that. Skin cancer has the dubious benefit of being visible to the naked eye in many cases. All you need to do is keep aware of your skin to know something is off. Dark spots and moles are the keys areas to watch when it comes to helping to ensure that your skin is healthy. Most of us will finish forming moles and benign dark spots on our skin by our early 30s. After that, new ones need to be treated with suspicion and old ones need to be watched. That’s where the ABCDE rules come in handy. They tell you what to look for to ensure those spots aren’t becoming a problem.

Asymmetry
Healthy moles and normal dark spots tend to be relatively symmetrical affairs. They’re seldom perfect, but a quick look at them means we’ll generally appraise them as being even on each side. Any mark resulting from melanoma or a similar skin cancer will be different. These marks tend to be obviously asymmetrical. Don’t leap to the automatic conclusion that an asymmetrical mark is necessarily cancer, but it is a sign you may want to talk to your doctor. This is especially true if it exhibits of the following symptoms as well.

Borders
Look at the edges of any mole or dark spot. Most healthy ones tend to be fairly uniform. They’re a minor extension of the main spots, if they exist, and overall smooth. Unhealthy, potentially cancerous marks are far more varied. They are obviously uneven with different patterns being evident. One of the more common patterns is that the edges will blur out unevenly and make the area appear larger than it is, but there are also instances where there are obvious dips, cuts, or notches in the border as well that lend it an unhealthy appearance.

Doctor checking skin spot

Color
The exact shade of the dark spot or mole is highly important to determining its health. Most of the time these spots will be a few shades darker than the rest of your skin. There are exceptions where they are particularly dark, but these will be in the minority. They tend to all be uniform in pigmentation, though. This isn’t the case with potentially cancerous marks. Various shades of color are evident in such marks ranging along the full spectrum of potential skin tone. There is a higher likelihood of the primary color being darker than the rest due to the problem resulting from skin damage.

Diameter
Size is yet another important rule for determining if a particular mole or dark spot is cancerous or not. On average, most moles and dark spots on the body will develop to a maximum size of roughly a pencil’s eraser. These are healthy, if not always desired, marks that are safe even if you should watch them for changes. Anything that is larger than that size reaches a point where you want to start consulting with your doctor. There is a potential for it to be cancerous. This is especially true if it exhibits any of the other traits we’ve highlighted.

Evolving
Your biggest clue when it comes to telling if a mark is cancerous is if it changes at all. That’s why you want to watch the marks already on your body. If they start changing, that’s a bad sign. New marks also fall under “evolving” as well. Changes in marks will generally follow the ABCD rules of this and it will give you a clear idea that you need to talk to your doctor. Things aren’t always clear, though. If you have a suspicion that a mark is changing, we strongly suggest that you talk to your doctor about it to get an area tested to help give you the best chances possible of getting ahead of the melanoma.

Melanoma is one of the most potent forms of skin cancer and something many people worry about as they age. The sun damage we’ve subjected to our skin to over the years can come surging back in the worst way possible without warning. Taking proper care to protect your skin will go a long way towards minimizing the risks, but we recommend you do a monthly to bi-monthly self-check while getting to know the marks on your body for added assurance of health.

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