You know those things that are only supposed to happen when you get older, like wrinkles or hearing your mother’s voice come out of your mouth? I always put skin cancer in that category too. My family has a terrible history of skin cancer, so I’ve always been careful about spending too much time in the sun and wearing lots of sunscreen, but I never really worried about my moles and such. I go to the dermatologist for a yearly body scan like I’m supposed to, but never expected the doctor to find anything.
Until my last appointment.
As my dermatologist was carefully going over everything and comparing it to the pictures she took last year, she noticed a mole that looked irregular. She didn’t have a picture of it in my file, so she considered it suspicious. My options were to have her take it off right then and send it to the lab to be tested, or wait three months and check it again. I choose to be play it safe and have her remove it.
I’m glad I did because four days later the nurse called me with the results: the mole was pre-cancerous.
How did this happen you may ask? How did I not notice a mole that looked funny? Because it was in a really weird place on my leg that I couldn’t see unless I was a contortionist. I didn’t even know I had a mole there. Oops. So the lesson here is to know where all your moles are, even the oddly placed ones and check them frequently, or have someone help you.
Since swimsuit season is upon us, I thought this was a great opportunity to remind you all of what skin cancers look like and how to prevent them.
Can you match these pictures to the right type of spot? Don’t you just love games? 🙂 (Answers below)
Five things you can do to help prevent skin cancer:
1. Avoid known cancer risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, and lack of exercise
2. Avoid UV radiation including long periods in the sun or the tanning bed (if you’re still tanning, I’m judging you)
3. Wear sunscreen all the time, especially on the face, and reapply often
4. Check your body periodically and look for any changes. This ACS guide is very helpful.
5. Make an appointment with a dermatologist to set a baseline. If you’re at risk for skin cancer (fair skin, family history), my doctor suggested getting checked out by a doctor every year. Talk to your doctor to see how often you should see him or her.
Answers: A(2), B(3), C(1), D(5), E(4)
-Photos from Glamour Magazine