Most of the more than one million cases of skin cancer that are diagnosed in the US each year are considered sun-related, and of those, almost 11,000 people will die each year. That's a lot of deaths that could be prevented if people just took care of their skin by wearing sunscreen and doing skin self-exams. Check yourself for suspicious-looking moles, and if you find something odd, make an appointment immediately with a dermatologist.
If you're not sure what you should be looking for — this is where your knowledge of the alphabet comes into play — follow the A,B,C,D,E rule. To learn the rule, just
|A for asymmetry: A mole that, when divided in half, doesn't look the same on both sides.
B for border: A mole with edges that are blurry or jagged.
C for color: Changes in the color of a mole, including darkening, spread of color, loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.
D for diameter: A mole larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.
E for elevation: A mole that is raised above the skin and has an uneven surface.
Check your skin often and look for these changes in your moles. Also be on the lookout for oozing, bleeding, itchiness, tenderness, or a mole that grows quickly. If detected early enough, the mole can be tested and removed if it's cancerous.
To protect yourself from future sun damage, remember to apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside, reapply it every two hours to prevent sunburn, and keep your skin protected at all times.