The Last Best Summer Ever
Summertime? More like SUNmertime! According to the Bureau of Summer Sciences™, there’s no better season in the year for spending time outdoors (suck it, fall!), and that means you and jolly ol’ Mr. Sun are gonna become very well acquainted this summer.
Unfortunately, jolly ol’ Mr. Sun—as warm and bright as he appears—can also be kind of a jolly ol’ dickbag, and if you spend too much time with him, he’ll not only make you blind, but he’ll try to give you cancer of the skin, too. Fortunately, there are ways to tell if the sun has been infecting you with deadly diseases against your will. Skin cancer is no joke (unlike foreskin cankers, which are hilarious), so here’s the best way to tell whether those fresh new blotches on your skin are going to kill you.
There are a few types of cancer that can appear on the skin, including carcinoma and keratosis, but melanoma is the most common and often the most dangerous. Fortunately, there’s a commonly used and easy-to-follow checklist to see if that brown spot is melanoma or something else. Even if you only got one-fifth of the way through your first day at kindergarten, you can use this handy ABCDE checklist to, literally, save your skin.
A: asymmetry. If your mark or mole is symmetrical, it’s likely not melanoma, which is often irregularly shaped. So if you can fold it perfectly in half (with your visual imagination—don’t try to do it in real life, because it will pinch like the dickens) and have both sides match, then it’s often benign.
B: border. Is there a defined outline around your new mark? If there’s a clearly visible border, it’s probably not melanoma. Melanoma borders typically has uneven edges and can be as jagged as the coast of Maine (AKA the “Cancer Coast”*).
C: color. You only want one. Melanomas are often splotchy and multicolored, with different levels of brown or black (and sometimes red, white or blue). A benign mole will usually be a single, uniform shade.
D: diameter. The smaller the better. A good rule of thumb is the size of an eraser on a pencil. If it’s smaller than that, your cancer-chances (“cances™”) go down. Bigger than a pencil eraser? Get it looked at, pronto.
E: evolving. Does your new skin-pal look a little different today? The good ones stay the same, while the bad ones evolve—in shape, color, size, protrusion, what have you. It’s not a bad idea to take a quick photo of a questionable mark so you have something to compare it with in a few days.
Those are the basic ABCDEs, and they cover most of the bases. However, there’s no substitute for good medical attention, so if you have any questions or doubts after going through this checklist, by all means, get to a doctor. After all, this is a free newspaper that you found on the sidewalk. Maybe you shouldn’t be taking life-or-death advice from us.
So, in the spirit of thoroughness, let’s tack on a few other letters for good measure—the LMNOPs of skin cancer, which you can only find right here in the Mercury, because we made them up developed them through years and years of careful research.
L: lick. This is simply an old-fashioned taste test—see if you can lick it off. If you can (and if it’s tasty), it is not cancer but a piece of your lunch that fell on your exposed skin. Bon appetit!
M: motion. Is it moving? Then it is not cancer. It is an ant or spider or other small insect-like creature. Swat it off. (Or, see L: lick)
N: noise. If the mark on your skin is making audible sounds, it is probably not melanoma. But you should still be worried.
O: Otter Pop. Rub your favorite flavor of Otter Pop onto your suspicious new blotch. Let it soak in, then repeat. There is no medical reason for this. I just wanted to see if you’d do it.
P: pain. If the mark on your skin physically hurts, then for the love of Jehoshaphat, get that thing in front of a doctor.
* This is a joke. If you are from Maine, please calm down. Everyone knows the real Cancer Coast is in Florida.