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Diagnosing Skin Cancer
June 21, 2013

Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox Skin cancer affects one of every five people in the country.

"The little injuries that we get from sun adds up year by year by year," said Huntington dermatologist Dr. Nazem Abraham.

That's what it's important to inspect your skin regularly. "Oftentimes we can tell by just looking at the lesion, whether it's questionable or benign or whether it's a frank malignancy," said Dr. Abraham.

Here are some screening guidelines many dermatologists use to examine moles to see if they are benign or possibly malignant. The "ABCDEs". A is for asymmetry. Is the mole bigger on one side than another? Is the border irregular? What color is it? What's the diameter? A spot bigger than a pencil head eraser may need to be checked out.

Finally, evolution. Is it a new spot? Has there been a major change recently? Dr. Abraham added this tip to determine if you need to be seen-- "If it's painful, if it's growing, changing in appearance, becoming darker, especially if you have the history of sun exposure."

Sometimes, doctors can't tell just by looking at the lesion. They may recommend a biopsy for further results, or that you be seen on a more regular basis.

"Sometimes we'll take a picture of the lesion and see if it's evolving, changing," he said.

Also, check out your family history of skin cancer. If a close relative has had it, take extra precautions. "It would behoove family members to get their yearly screenings and to be on the lookout for changing moles," he said.

Your best protection is to prevent sunburns.

"Just covering up to the best that's common sensical and to get your sun in small doses and to try to avoid burns," said Dr. Abraham.

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