Is My Mole Cancerous?
Did you know that while people with light skin are more likely to develop skin cancer, people with darker skin are more likely to die from it?
Researchers at the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that minority groups are 17% more likely to die from skin cancer than their white counterparts. What’s more, one study found that skin cancer rates among Hispanics in California have been steadily increasing since 1988.
Skin cancer really is a danger in our community. We’re here to help you understand this common condition and spot it early so you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
Skin Cancer Basics
Let’s start by clarifying the main types of skin cancer, which fall into two categories:
Keratinocyte cancer, which is named after the skin cells where it grows (keratinocytes). Its subgroups, the most common forms of skin cancer, are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). BCC and SCC are similar in that they grow on parts of the body that receive the most sun exposure. But it’s also possible for these cancers to grow in areas that don’t see the sun, like genitals or the inside of the mouth.
Melanoma, the other—and most serious—skin cancer, gets its name from melanocytes, which are the cells that create moles and are responsible for your skin color. Melanoma can be deceiving because it may start out looking like a regular, harmless mole. It is usually a very aggressive form of cancer, and early detection is key.
What To Check For On Your Skin
The American Cancer Society created the ABCDE rule, explaining how to spot signs of melanoma when you check your moles and other skin marks:
Asymmetry: One half of a mole doesn’t match the other half.
Border: The edges of your mole are irregular, blurred, or ragged.
Color: The mole’s color is uneven, with patches of different shades.
Diameter: Your mole is larger than ¼ inch across (about the size of a pencil eraser).
Evolving: The mole is changing in some way, such as in size, shape, or color.
Often, cases of skin cancer among people with darker skin are diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer is harder to treat. Not only that, but minority groups are more likely to develop melanoma on unusual parts of the body, such as the palms or soles of the feet.
So even if you are doing skin checks at home, it’s a good idea to have a regular skin screening with a dermatologist.
As you watch how much time you spend in the sun, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. A credible supplement is a good idea because it gives you all the benefits of vitamin D—such as bone and muscle health—without turning up your risk for skin cancer.
Let’s stay healthier, together
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