How to spot the onset of skin cancer?

How to spot a beginning of skin cancer?

With the arrival of good weather, the temptation to roast in the sun is strong for many. But getting a tan is not without risks. According to the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the country every year. Here are a few pointers for detecting the onset of skin cancer and making sure you get a consultation.

Since there are several types of skin cancer, here we will focus on the two most important. 

The indestructible button 

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. “Fortunately, it's also the least aggressive of all skin cancers,” says Dr. Beatrice Wang, dermatologist and director of the Melanoma Clinic at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC). 

It is exposure to the sun that causes this cancer. Thus, it will manifest itself “on the places most exposed to the sun such as the face, the head, the neck”. 

And what does it look like? “It's like a pimple that doesn't heal. It doesn't necessarily hurt, but it bleeds easily. It grows very slowly, gets bigger all the time and does not disappear. »

The expert assures that it is quite rare for this cancer to spread and it can be cured with surgery. “The problem is that if you let it hang around for years, you may need major surgeries.” 

The suspicious mole 

The second major skin cancer is melanoma. This one is much more dangerous because it is more likely to spread and thus become deadly. More than 5,000 melanomas are detected each year, according to the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation.  

However, when detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%. And fortunately, most of the time, it is clearly visible. 

Doctors use the ABCDE technique to recognize melanoma. 

  • For asymmetry: The two halves of the “mole” have different shapes. 
  • Bfor border: The borders of the “mole” are irregular. They may appear blurry or jagged. 
  • C for color: The color is uneven. We can perceive different shades of brown and black, sometimes with blue, gray, red, pink or white. 
  • Dfor diameter: The diameter of the “mole” is more than 5 millimeters
  • Efor evolution: The “mole” changes over time. 

The only way to detect melanoma is to observe your body from time to time taking into account these five points.  

No more tanning 

To prevent these cancers, you must avoid sunburn… and even tanning. “A tan is not a mark of health,” warns Dr. Wang. Whenever the skin tans, it is a manifestation of DNA damage to our skin. It should be avoided as much as possible.” Thus, dermatologists suggest wearing long clothes and hats when you are under the sun. Simple sunscreen is not enough to protect us.

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