Local News

Learn Early Signs Of Skin Cancer

Posted July 28, 2005 10:09 a.m. EDT

— With summer sunshine at its peak, so is the risk of skin cancer. The best way to beat the disease is to learn how to prevent it.

As a young girl, Jane Wendling loved to lay out in the sun. Then, four years ago, she noticed a spot under her left eye.

"I had that for almost a year and I kept looking in the mirror and saw a little opaque spot. It was really tiny and I thought, 'No, I'm just seeing things,'" Wendling said.

Doctors found it was basal cell carcinoma. It was removed without a scar or complications. Dr. Robert Clark has encouraging words for most of his patients if skin cancer is caught early.

"If you look at the statistics as far as cure rates of these cancers, about 95 percent can be cured with relatively simple surgical procedures," he said.

The letters ABCD can help you spot early cancerous growths.

  • A is Assymetry - a spot on the skin that's not round or oval in shape.
  • B is Border - the edges are notched and uneven.
  • C is Color - cancerous growths typically have an uneven distribution of color.
  • D is Diameter - Check any growths larger than 6 millimeters, about the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Health officials said caucasians are most at risk.

    "Those who have fair complexions, light-colored eyes, blue or green eyes, light-colored hair," Clark said.

    If untreated, the cancer grows downward and spreads to lymph nodes or other organs. After the first basal cell removal, Wendling had two others removed. She now wears sunscreen and does not crave a tan anymore.

    "I have just given up the sun. It's not worth it to me to have to go through this anymore," she said.

    If you have already had years of over-exposure to the sun, officials said it is a good idea to get an annual skin exam.