Skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma — the deadliest skin cancer — is on the rise among 15-to-29-year-olds. The main culprit for the increase in young people is indoor tanning.
The good news is that most skin cancers are highly treatable when detected early, say Cleveland Clinic dermatologists. Self skin exams and annual skin exams from your doctor or dermatologist are critical if you’re at high risk of skin cancer.
Risk factors include:
- A history of indoor tanning
- Skin that’s fair or that burns, freckles or reddens easily
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Family history of melanoma
- Heavy sun exposure at work or recreationally
- Many sunburns early in life
- Blue or green eyes
- Blonde or red hair
- Certain kinds of moles
Know your ABCDEs
To do a proper skin self-exam, be on the lookout for changes in moles and other skin lesions. Watch for:
Asymmetry: the shape of one half doesn’t match the other
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Border: edges that are ragged, blurred or poorly defined
Color: variations of brown, black, tan, and sometimes patches of red, blue or white
Diameter: larger than the size of a pencil eraser
Evolving: lesions that appear to be changing
Lesions with one or more of these traits need to be checked as quickly as possible by a dermatologist. So do lesions that bleed, scab, “come and go” or don’t heal.
Enjoy the outdoors without risking your health. Apply sunscreen liberally and frequently — even on cloudy days.