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See Spot, Check Spot- Skin Cancer is the Only Type of Cancer You Can See.

May is skin cancer awareness month and today, Monday, May 7, 2012, is Melanoma Monday. Created by the American Academy of Dermatology as a way to raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer and to encourage early detection through self-exams, Melanoma Monday is the perfect day to check over your “spots”.

Skin cancer is the only cancer that can be seen on the surface of the skin. By examining your skin for any changes, you can detect early warning signs of skin cancer. Melanoma is a serious skin cancer, which is curable if detected early. Melanoma grows from pigment cells (melanocytes) in the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Melanomas usually start as a skin lesion and tend to spread out within the epidermis before moving into the deeper layer of the skin (the dermis). It can occur in adults of any age.  Early detection and removal is extremely important to prevent this type of cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.

Know your body, so you can recognize changes and possible Melanomas. Full body skin examinations- screening skin for benign or cancerous lesions- are essential for optimum health maintenance.  Half of melanomas are first identified by patients themselves. You should perform an annual full body exam to allow early detection of treatment. An important part of prevention is mole tracking with the ABCDE danger signs: A=asymmetry, B=irregular border, C=irregular color, D=increase in diameter, E=evolution or changes in the mole.

Access this body mole map at the American Academy of Dermatology website and schedule an appointment if you find any areas of concern.

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