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The 4-Letters for Skin Cancer Prevention

When you’re older it’s important to examine your skin on a regular basis. No, not to search for wrinkles, laugh lines or crow’s feet, but something much more deadly: skin cancer.

However, fully examining yourself monthly will greatly reduce your risk of dying from this disease. After all, skin cancer is almost always treatable if caught early -- so it’s important that you get to know your moles intimately and check in on them regularly.

The whole process is quick and easy, and requires nothing more than a mirror or two (Oh, and perhaps some privacy – wouldn’t want to taunt the neighbors! Or would we? LOL!)

Anyway, just schedule a few minutes to stand in front of a mirror and admire your entire “birthday suit.” Look it over closely in search of moles (and use a hand mirror to check hard-to-see places, too). Then examine each mole using the simple and easy to remember “A, B, C, D” method as described below:

A is for… Asymmetry: Each mole should be symmetric. That means that if you draw a line down the middle, the part of the mole on either side should be a mirror image. If not, find a dermatologist and make an appointment for a skin exam.

B is for… Border: The border of each mole should be well-defined and clear. If the border is fuzzy, blotchy, or irregular make that appointment with a dermatologist.

C is for… Color: Moles should be one color. If there is a change in color in the mole, you need to have that mole checked.

D is for… Difference: Check your moles every month to see if there is any change in them. Each mole should be in the same 'style' as the other moles on your body.

One last thing to note; don’t be fooled into thinking that sunscreen is enough to prevent skin cancer...

While some studies show that applying sunscreen every day can indeed reduce the formation of actinic keratoses (also called solar keratoses), which can develop into the more serious squamous cell skin cancer, it is not an absolute in skin cancer prevention. However, it is an important tool in your arsenal of skin cancer prevention.

There are other ways to protect yourself from the sun, too! Some alternatives are as simple as staying out of the sun in the middle of the day. If you're at the beach, use an umbrella. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and a shirt. And completely avoid tanning salons.

Over one million Americans -- both young at old -- will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Heeding these simple tips just may save you a lot of suffering in the future.

Keep moving toward a better you!

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