Skin Cancer: Understanding the Basics

With over 5 million cases diagnosed each year, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Strangely enough, it is also the most preventable type of cancer. One of skin cancer’s leading causes is overexposure to ultraviolet light, whether it be from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds. Millions of people are also born with certain risk factors that make them more susceptible to developing skin cancer. The two most common types are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and the good news is that they are highly curable when caught in the early stages.

Staying knowledgeable on the basics of skin cancer is the best form of defense and early detection for the disease. To help you do just that, we’ve put together a quick overview of a few skin cancer basics.

Factors that increase risk for developing skin cancer:

  • Light or fair skin tone
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • History of indoor tanning
  • Exposure to the sun through work or play
  • Blonde or red hair
  • Moles or freckles

Schedule routine skin cancer screenings with your dermatologist to increase your chances of detecting abnormalities and treating them with a higher success rate.

Have you heard of the A-B-C-D-E method? Use it to remember the warning signs of melanoma:

  • “A” = asymmetrical. Is the shape irregular, or not symmetrical?
  • “B” = border. Is the border clearly defined or oddly shaped?
  • “C” = color. Is the color the same throughout the mark, or does it change shades from one area to another on the same mole?
  • “D” = diameter. If the spot is larger or has recently become larger than a pencil eraser, you need to have it checked out.
  • “E” = evolving. Have you noticed any changes to a specific spot over the course of weeks or months? Alert your doctor immediately if you notice changes.

These are all tell-tale signs of possible skin cancer developments. Stay on top of changes in your skin by setting a reminder for your monthly self exam.

Protect your skin by wearing a daily moisturizing sunscreen, scheduling routine visits with your dermatologist, wearing a hat and sunglasses when in the sun, and regularly checking your body for unfamiliar moles or spots.

You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by protecting your skin from UV rays all year long, not just during summer or when you are at the beach. Know the most hazardous hours for UV rays (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and make sure to reapply sunscreen often.

Take ownership of your body and your health by protecting yourself from skin cancer!

Join us for a free skin cancer screening from 8-11 a.m. on June 1 at one of the four locations listed below:


Atmore Community Hospital
401 Medical Park Dr
Atmore, AL 36502

Bay Minette:

North Baldwin Fitness Center
2115 Hand Ave
Bay Minette, AL  36507


Thomas Fitness Center
212 Hospital Drive, Suite A
Fairhope, AL 36532


Fox10 News Station
1501 Satchel Paige Dr,
Mobile, AL 36606