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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc

Extra Sun This Summer? Keep An Eye On Your Skin!

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Did you spend some extra time in the sun this summer? Keeping an eye on your skin can be one of the best ways to detect early changes. Skin cancer is among the most common types of cancer in the United States, and moles can be harmless although any changes or new moles should be discussed with your doctor. While anyone can get skin cancer no matter what their skin color, risk factors include increased exposure to UV light, suppression of immune function due to medication or medical conditions, or even due to a family history of this disease. Exposure to UV light is an important one to keep on your radar this winter if you are considering visiting a tanning bed – opt to try a spray on tan or embrace your natural skin color instead! Some simple signs you can look for on your skin can be remembered by a handy mnemonic. Unsure if a lesion you have noticed is changing? Try talking pictures every few days so you can compare long term. The changes you should be watching for can be remembered using your ABCDEs! A: Asymmetry – this makes reference to the fact that if the shape of the mole is not a mirror image when split down the middle, it is more likely to be cancerous. B: Border – keep an eye on the edge of any moles or lesions you notice. If the border is jagged and not a smooth line, it is important to get it checked out! C: Color – there is no one color in particular that signifies a cancerous mole, but a variation of color inside anyone lesion can be troublesome. This may look like areas are darker than others in the mole. Cancerous lesions can be any shade of brown or tan, as well as red, blue and other colors. D: Diameter – bigger moles are more likely to be cancerous. Look for lesions that are over ¼ inch as a rule of thumb, comparable to the size of a pencil eraser. E: Exudate or Evolving – one of the biggest warning signs of a cancerous lesion is change. Keep an eye on your moles for any growth or change in texture or color! Exudate refers to the fact that a cancerous mole might start bleeding or crusting spontaneously. It is good practice in prevention to make a habit of checking your skin over once per moth, and noting any changes to existing moles or appearance of new spots of moles. This is especially important if you are someone who has multiple moles and spots to begin with, and it may be valuable to ask your doctor about professional mapping of the spots, usually done by a dermatologist once per year, to track them over time.

Article originally written for ACE nutrients by Dr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc - available here: – Dr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc

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