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Tips for recognizing the signs of skin cancer

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As a provider of senior care services, it's important that you know the signs of skin cancer and can detect a potentially dangerous spot on your clients.

You may want to consider doing a monthly head-to-toe examination on your clients, especially during the summer months when they may be venturing outside more than normal. If you find any new or changing spots that could be cancerous or precancerous, get them to a dermatologist. 

Skin cancer is most curable when it's found and removed as early as possible. 

Common types of skin cancer include:

  • Basal cell carcinoma - This is the most common type of skin cancer and most spots are treatable. Early detection is important because BCC can grow deep into the skin and make treatment more difficult.
  • Melanoma - The cure rate for melanoma is nearly 100 percent as long as it is treated before it reaches the lymph nodes. This cancer can spread quickly, so make sure you're completing monthly examinations on your clients.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma - Elderly clients may be more susceptible to this type of cancer as it's more common to appear on skin that's undergone skin exposure over the course of several years.

When checking for signs of melanoma on your patients, remember your alphabet ABCDEs:

  • A (Asymmetry): The two sides will not match if you were to draw a line through the mole
  • B (Border): Uneven, scalloped or notched borders is cause for concern.
  • C (Color): See a doctor if there are a variety of colors on a mole.
  • D (Diameter): Melanomas are typically bigger than one-quarter inch.
  • E (Evolving): Changes in size, color, elevation and shape are warning signs as are itching and bleeding
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