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The signs of skin cancer

Take the preventive steps to protect your skin.

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Skin cancer, also called melanoma, can affect anyone. It doesn’t discriminate based on age or the color of your skin. According to the American Cancer Society, one person dies of melanoma every hour (every 54 minutes).

Take these steps to protect your skin

Nearly 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once. Take steps now to protect yourself:

  • Avoid or limit your time in the sun.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Cover up with clothing.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Make sure you do not burn.

Skin cancer signs to look for

Skin exams are key to prevention. Check your skin every month on your own. Also, be sure to schedule a professional skin exam each year.

It’s important to know what to look for during a self-exam. A normal mole or spot can be brown, black or tan. It may be flat or raised, round or oval. Be on the lookout for any new spots that appear different than others or have changed size, shape or color.

Try following the ABCDE rule:

  • Asymmetry: Half of a mole doesn’t match the other.
  • Border: The edges are irregular.
  • Color: The color is not the same all over.
  • Diameter: A mole is larger than 6 millimeters across.
  • Evolving: A mole looks different over time.

Other signs include:

  • Open sores that don’t heal (they may ooze or bleed)
  • Redness or swelling around a spot
  • A spot that is painful or itchy

Some skin cancers may not fit the guidelines outlined above. See your doctor about any skin concerns you have.


  • American Cancer Society
  • Skin Cancer Foundation

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.