Being under the sun is often always equated with fun, the beach, and summer. In health, being under the sun, when too much, is skin cancer. The skin is the body’s first defense against harmful agents in the environment, such as UV rays from the sun. With this function, indeed you can say it’s the toughest. Sad to say, with this in mind, many disregard any unusual changes with the skin and go on with excessive tanning and prolonged exposures under the heat – until such time these changes become grossly noticeable and already cause discomforts. With reference to the statistics from the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), skin cancer ranks 6th among the cancer types that affect men with 1,719 cases and 7th among those that affect women with 1,381 cases. Melanoma is considered the deadliest of its type, which is included in the counts.

Dermatologists say that skin cancer is highly curable especially when detected early. Awareness on the part of the individual will most likely be a great weapon to recognize the early signs of this malignancy. So to be guided, here are the ABCDEFG’s of skin cancer:

A for ASYMMETRICAL. The best way to know if your mole is benign or not is to define its symmetry. Benign moles, when drawn with a line in the middle, appear symmetrical. When it doesn’t, you might consider a malignant mole.

B for BORDERS. Do the borders of your mole appear smooth? Or do they appear jagged. Smooth-bordered moles are benign. Jagged-appearing borders suggest melanoma.

C for COLOR. Your mole color should be the same with the others. Warning signs of melanoma are either solid black color (as in the case of nodular melanoma) or a variety of black, brown, or tan (or even red, blue, or white).

D for DIAMETER. Moles that are benign are usually small in diameter. If your mole is larger than your pencil’s eraser (its diameter is approximately ¼ inch or 6mm), then consider seeing a dermatologist for further assessment.

E for EVOLVING. Benign moles do not change in appearance. Once you notice changes in size, color, elevation, or feel (e.g., itching and discomforts), or when there’s bleeding, you should suspect melanoma.

F for FIRM. Most moles when touched are firm are usually pathologic. Check other signs and consult your doctor.

G for GROWTH. Unusual growth rate of moles could be development of cancerous cells. If your mole has been growing at a rate of just a few weeks or months, it’s best to go for a checkup.

The key to effective treatment is early detection and early detection is maximized thru awareness. Therefore, don’t just be skin-beautiful, be skin-healthy!