Are You at Risk for Skin Cancer?
How do you know when you are sick? Usually, a variety of symptoms shows up and they are obvious. You have a fever, a nasty cough, perhaps pain somewhere, vomiting, or a runny nose. Detecting skin cancer is not like figuring out if you have the flu or a chest infection, and there is no over-the-counter remedy you can take.
One thing that skin cancer shares with infections, viruses, and diseases is that it does not discriminate according to age. You could be affected no matter how old or young you are. If you think you are too young to have melanoma symptoms, ask yourself a few important questions. They are questions that could save your life.
Has anyone in your family had a history of skin cancer? Maybe your mother, father, or sibling has had a mole or two removed already. If so, he or she will probably have to have another removed at some time. Meanwhile, you might have inherited this trait, so keep looking out for signs of ugly, unusual moles.
How many moles do you have around your body? Try to estimate the number if you can, or compare your skin to that of a friend. Maybe new ones appear from time to time as well. Your doctor might have commented during a routine physical exam that you have more moles than the average person and should keep an eye on them.
Did you ever experience major sunburn during childhood or in your teens? This could have left you at a higher risk of developing some form of skin cancer. Another risk factor is your pigmentation and eye color: individuals with light colored skin and eyes are more likely to develop cancer than people with dark skin and eyes.
Exposure to the light of a sun bed or solarium is also potentially dangerous. Have you ever used one?
Remember that if you are worried about a lump on your skin that looks irregular in some way, do not rely on the opinion of a skin care expert to give you a diagnosis. If she is responsible, this professional will recommend that you speak to your doctor or a dermatologist. You might even want to consider having a painless mole map done annually where signs of lesions or odd-shaped moles will be detected.
When a doctor gets involved, her trained eyes will spot signs you either miss or deny. These include the color and border of a mole. She knows when what looks like a pimple or an atypically shaped mole could be cancer.