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After taking Peggy's medical history, Dr. Irwin begins a skin cancer examination. In checking literally every centimeter of Peggy's skin from her scalp to between her toes, Dr. Irwin found several irregular spots on Peggy's arm and foot. After numbing those areas, Dr. Irwin removed the spots and sent skin samples to a lab to test if they contained any cancerous cells.

Dr. Oz says if those spots are skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer, there are several types it could be.

Basal cell cancer, which starts at the base of the skin, is the most common form. Typically caused by sun damage, it starts with a scaly area that, if it advances, will eventually gain a pearly appearance.

Squamous cell tumors get a scaly appearance early. As they advance, the skin puckers in.

The third type of skin cancer is melanoma, which Dr. Oz calls "the big one." Melanoma comes from melanin, the cells that make pigment, so there are a few indicators. These can be explained as "A, B, C, D."

Asymmetry: "It's hard to draw a line down the middle," Dr. Oz says.

Border: "The border's irregular and it sort of melts into the skin around it. That's a classic sign of a melanoma."

Color: If a mole has a "rainbow coalition" of colors, that means it's probably melanoma, Dr. Oz says.

Diameter: Dr. Oz says mole size does matter. "If you can cover over the mole with an eraser head you'll probably be okay," he says. "But if you've got hundreds of moles or a family history or you've had a melanoma in the past, you need to be screened pretty aggressively."
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FROM: Dr. Oz Viewer Interventions
Published on January 01, 2006

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