Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Is It a Skin Lump or Cancer?

This Q&A was adapted from my just-released-book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices Today for a Healthier, Happier You. It was adapted for the July issue of Today’s Christian Living. If you don’t have a subscription, I highly recommend it.

Dear Dr. Walt,

Everybody in our family has lumps and bumps and skin growths—but how do we know when one might be cancer?

—Bumps in Missouri

Dear Lumps,

Although there are many types of skin cancer, knowing the “ABCDE warning signs” of melanoma (the most dangerous skin cancer) can help you find not only early melanomas, but other skin cancers, also:

  • A = Asymmetry—one half is unlike the other half.
  • B = Border—an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
  • C = Color—is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.
  • D = Diameter—melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
  • E = Evolving—a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

Skin cancers need to be discovered and treated early to prevent them from spreading into and damaging surrounding tissues or spreading around the body. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you and your spouse do a head-to-toe examination of each other’s skin every month so you can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. 

Then, if you notice a spot on your skin that is different from others, or that changes, itches, or bleeds, make an appointment to see your health professional or a dermatologist. Skin cancers are almost always curable when found and removed early. You can find a step-by-step guide to self-examination at tinyurl.com/SCF-SkinCheck.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2019. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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