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Spotting Skin Cancer: A Guide to Early Detection and Prevention

May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month! As one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the United States, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that melanoma will affect 1 in 27 men and 1 in 40 women in their lifetime. Knowing how to spot skin cancer can help save your life or someone you love.

Dr. Sherri Peace at Westchester Dermatology, a skin cancer expert in the Los Angeles, CA area, is here with our early detection and prevention tips.

ABCDEs of Skin Cancer: What to Look for

A: Asymmetry: Normal moles are round and relatively even in shape. If you notice a mole or growth with an asymmetrical shape, it’s important to get it examined by a skilled dermatologist. An asymmetrical mole may have one side that is more elongated or rounder; you may also notice that one side is larger than the other. 

B: Border: Normal moles have clearly defined borders. If you notice a growth with irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred edges, it may be an early sign of skin cancer.

C: Color: Do you have a mole or skin growth that is a different or uneven color than the others? Schedule a skin exam to rule out skin cancer. These discolored skin growths are typically brown, red, back, pink, white, or even blue.

D: Diameter: If you notice a particularly large more or growth (¼ inch or larger), schedule a skin exam as soon as possible. Because the skin cells are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body, skin cancer can spread quickly. Getting concerning growths, particularly larger moles, checked can help to catch cancer in the early stages.

E: Evolving: Alone, the above symptoms are not necessarily indicative of skin cancer. But if you notice several of these signs and changes in size, shape, or color of the concerning blemish, it’s important to see a qualified skin cancer expert in Los Angeles as soon as possible.

If any of these signs sound familiar, now is the time to schedule a skin cancer screening with Westchester Dermatology. Dr. Sherri Peace can perform any additional diagnostic testing necessary and provide the comprehensive, personalized care you need.

Melanoma and Skin Cancer Prevention in California

California is world-renowned for its year-round sunshine and great weather. For this reason, Californians are rated among the most active people in the country, enjoying everything from surfing and swimming to hikes and outdoor sports. All that time in the sun can be great for getting enough vitamin D and fresh air, but it can also be damaging to the skin.

UV damage is the leading cause of skin cancer, so protecting your skin against sunburns is crucial for prevention. These simple habits can help to reduce your skin cancer risks:

  • Limit sun exposure, especially during the peak hours of 11 AM to 3 PM, or when the UV index is high.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 at least every 2 hours. If you are swimming or sweating, use water-resistant sunscreen and reapply about every hour. 
  • Incorporate sun protection into your outfits with loose, breathable, protective layers, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Add antioxidants like vitamin C into your skincare routine, as they can help heal sun damage. 
  • Keep up with your annual skin exam for early detection and intervention if there is a problem. If you have a personal or family history of skin cancer or any other factors that might increase your risks, be sure to discuss this with your dermatologist.

Protect yourself and your loved ones with these preventative tips, and schedule your annual skin cancer screening today with Dr. Sherri Peace.

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