GREENVILLE N.C. (WNCT) – It’s the unofficial start of summer, but that means it’s also time to protect yourself against skin cancer.
North Carolina ranks 16th in the country for new melanoma cases, and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. WNCT spoke with dermatologists who said there are many ways to prevent skin cancer. Although certain skin types are more prone to skin cancer, too much sun is dangerous to all of us.
“The two main ways that people can for the most part, get skin cancers are UV rays from the sun and tanning beds as well,” said Dr. Tiffany Alexander, a dermatologist with ECU Health. She added it’s important to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when in the sun.
Alexander explained there are different types of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell — both of which can be easily treated if caught in time. There is also melanoma, which can be more serious.
“It’s the least common but it can be the most deadly,” said Alexander.
However, she said, even melanoma can be easily treated if caught before it spreads, and there are a few ways to look out for it.
“We like to say watch out for the A-B-C-D-Es of Melanoma,” Alexander said. Those stand for asymmetric, border, color, diameter and evolving.
“Look for a mole that may be asymmetric, and as far as ‘B,’ the border, any sort of moles with jagged or irregular borders, and then ‘C,’ look for variations in color,” Alexander said. “So maybe one aspect is a light brown or one, it’s very dark brown or black. That’s something we look at further, and then ‘D’, diameter.
“So if it’s more than six millimeters, or the size of a pencil eraser that will certainly catch our attention, or one that’s evolving one that’s changing one that’s growing rapidly or, you know, symptomatic.”
She also said while people with more fair skin tones are more susceptible to skin cancer, African Americans have a higher rate of Melanoma in areas that aren’t often exposed to the sun.
“It show up in areas that typically aren’t exposed to the sun, believe or not, in African-Americans still the toes, or maybe even sometimes the finger tips or or the fingers,” she said.
Alexander added if you notice any irregular moles or lesions on your skin, it’s important to have them checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible, and it’s also important to have general skin checks to ensure there are no preliminary concerns.