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Skin cancer the abc's


Self-skin examine 'once a month' (ACS) AP

Skin cancer has been on the rise in the past few years despite the best effort of doctors and experts warring about the dangers of the sun. Our high altitude means an increase of UV exposure, and a higher risk for skin cancer. Skin protection is essential in our sunny state of Denver also equally important is a self-skin examine “once a month” advises the American Cancer Society (ACS). Skin cancer is usually easiest to treat in its earliest stages—and some skin changes are potential warning signs.

Who’s at risk for skin cancer?
Everyone is at risk, but some things can increase the likelihood of skin cancer developing. According ACS and other experts, you are at higher-than-average risk if you:

  • Have fair skin that sunburns or freckles easily.
  • Spend lots of time in the sun.
  • Have many moles or irregular or large moles.
  • Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma.

There are different kinds of skin cancers, including:

  • Basal cell carcinoma -- This is the most common form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas are rarely fatal but can be disfiguring.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma -- This is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 250,000 cases are diagnosed each year, resulting in about 2,500 deaths.
  • Melanoma -- This type of skin cancer accounts for about 3 percent of skin cancer cases, but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. About 62,480 melanomas will be diagnosed this year. More than 8,000 will result in death

Know your ABC’S
Doctors recommend that patients develop a regular routine to inspect their bodies for any skin changes. If any growth, mole, sore or skin discoloration appears suddenly or begins to changes, see your dermatologist. You can identify abnormal moles by using the “ABC” test. A mole may be suspicious if it presents the following:
A -- Asymmetry: If your mole is not perfectly round or if one-half does not match the other half.
B -- Border Irregularity: If the edges of the mole or growth are jagged, notched or blurred.
C -- Color: If the pigmentation of the growth is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown and black are present. Dashes of red, white and blue are also present.
D -- Diameter: If the width is greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser), it could be an abnormal skin growth.

It helps to check your skin in front of a mirror. Use a hand-held mirror for those hard-to-see places. Check from head to toe; don’t overlook any area. Every unusual finding isn’t necessarily cancer, but if you do find something that concerns you - tell your doctor as soon as possible. He or she will make a diagnosis by visual inspection and/or by taking a skin sample (biopsy). Skin cancer is readily treatable, but early detection is very important.

To learn more about skin self-exams, visit the ACS Website at

For un-and under-insured Coloradans
Denver Health
660 Bannock St Denver, CO
Dr. Lela Lee, Dermatologist

  • Denver Health will provide free or low-cost treatment to Denver City/County residents
  • Patients are expected to go through a screening process prior to being seen in clinics. This screening is conducted by phone.
  • For most patients, a co-pay is required and for most, it would be a reduced cost (often a greatly reduced cost), as it is based on ability to pay.


  • Dr. Dave 5 years ago

    Well written Victoria, skin-cancer is very treatable if detected early.

  • John Breckenridge 5 years ago

    This article is very well written and most informative. I gain a great deal of knowledge about skin cancer and will definitely be able to use the information to enhance my life.

    Victoria covered her subject extremely well and I would recommend that everyone should read it as it very possibably could save their lifes if they just follow her recommendations.

    I am most happy I read the article and will pass it on to my friends and relatives.

  • Dr, Anonymous 5 years ago

    One more for the hospitals lobby (Denver Health), Dr Lee is going to enjoy this one.