Expert advises busy parents to check for skin cancer

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A doctor examines a patient's skin for signs of melanoma. Source: Wikimedia Commons
A doctor examines a patient's skin for signs of melanoma. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many busy parents take the time to slather sunscreen on their children before heading outdoors, but they may neglect to protect their own skin. Dermatologists caution that skin cancer can affect anyone, even parents.

"As a mom, I understand how easily parents' health can take a back seat to the needs of the family," Dr Doris Day said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release. Day is a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine/Langone Medical Centre in New York City.

Read: Are you at risk of skin cancer?

"However, it's important to value your own health and well-being as highly as your children's," she said. "Take a few minutes even if it's right after you shower or while you're putting on your pyjamas in the evening to check your skin regularly for the signs of skin cancer.

"It could save your life."

Skin cancer is most treatable when it's detected early. American Academy of Dermatology experts say everyone should learn the "ABCDEs" of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer:

- A is for Asymmetry: One side of a mole is not identical to the other side.

- B is for Border irregularity: The mole has uneven, notched or blurred edges.

- C is for Colour: The mole varies in colour from one area to another.

- D is for Diameter: Most melanomas are bigger than the size of a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but can be smaller.

- E is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion changes in size, shape or colour over time.

Read: Trial therapy ups melanoma survival 

Routinely checking the skin for these signs can help detect cancer early. Ask a family member to check hard-to-see places, like the back.

Dr Ellen Marmur is an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York City. She said that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies of melanoma every hour.

"Check your skin regularly, and if you see anything that is changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment right away to see a board-certified dermatologist," she said in the news release.

Read more:

Can orange juice raise your melanoma risk? 

Viral: woman shares gruesome skin cancer photo to warn against sunbeds 

Fluorescent bulbs may pose skin cancer risk

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