Wellness Matters

5 Ways to Check For Skin Cancer

April 25, 2016

On bright sunny days, the sun feels so good on our skin. Yet it is a known fact that over-exposure to sunlight is a major cause of skin cancer. But skin cancer can develop where the sun doesn’t shine. The most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma. It can develop on any area of the body regardless of sun exposure. This includes the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, fingernail beds or in the eye.

There are three major types of skin cancer – basal cellcarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.  Melanoma is the deadliest. It can spread to your lymph nodes, lungs, liver and brain. It is an aggressive form of cancer, killing nearly 300 North Carolinians every year, with a death rate rising faster than nearly all other forms of cancer combined. Yet if melanoma is diagnosed early, the survival rate is extremely high.

The best defense against melanoma is a regular self-examination. You should be checking your skin for changes in existing moles or new growths. To help identify unusual moles that could be melanomas, remember the letters ABCDE

  • A – Asymmetrical. Melanomas are typically irregular in shape.
  • B – Border. Check the outside edge of the mole. Blurry or fuzzy edges are symptomatic of melanomas.
  • C – Color.  Does the color of your mole have various shades of color? Normal moles typically have the same coloring throughout. Melanomas do not.
  • D – Diameter. Melanomas are typically larger than ¼ of an inch, while normal moles are smaller.
  • E – Evolve. Has your mole changed in size? Does it appear different than the other moles on your body? Have you noticed a suspicious area of skin that is suddenly itchy? Any different looking growth should be shown to your doctor.

The best protection against any form of skin cancer, including melanoma, is to shield yourself from the sun. This includes wearing hats, protective clothing and sunscreen with a SPF number of 30 or higher. Also, wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays. The sun can cause ocular melanoma’s and macular degeneration of the eyes. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and immediately after being in the water or heavy sweating. It is also wise to limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Use good common sense when protecting your skin from the sun, conduct self-exams and tell your doctor about any unusual growths or concerns you may have. There are also screenings available in the community. Remember to take care of your skin!

Cone Health cancer center offers free screenings for skin cancer

About the Author

Christine Brannock, RN, BS, OCN is the Oncology Outreach Manager at the


  1. It's so important to encourage the use of suncream, tan in a bottle and the disuse of sunbeds which are known world-wide as causes of skin cancer.