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    Give Yourself a Skin Cancer Checkup


    Did you realize that skin cancer is almost always curable when it’s found and treated early?


    A key to early skin cancer detection is to perform a skin cancer self-exam each month. A self skin cancer check sounds simple enough, but do you know what you’re looking for? Improve your chances of detecting skin cancers by brushing up on some skin cancer screening facts.


    What to Watch for


    While skin cancer can be found anywhere on the body, it most often develops on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms. During a self cancer check, cancer can appear as a:


    • Reddened lump
    • Small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy bump
    • Flat, red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly
    •  New growth, spot, bump, patch, or sore that doesn’t heal after several weeks
    • Shaving cut that doesn’t heal in few days


    The most lethal form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, usually begins in a mole. When examining moles, look for the “ABCDEs” of malignant melanoma:


    • Asymmetrical shape, meaning that one side of the mole doesn’t match the other side
    • Borders that are irregular, uneven, or ragged
    • Color that varies from one area to another
    • Diameter larger than six millimeters, or bigger than the standard eraser on the end of a pencil
    • Evolving moles or skin lesions that have changed in size, shape or color


    Aside from malignant melanoma, specific types of skin cancer you may develop include:


    • Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer and usually appears as a small, shiny bump or a red patch. It typically occurs on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the face, neck, and arms.

    • Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of skin cancer usually appears as a red, scaly patch or a wart-like growth. It can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on sun-exposed areas.

    • Merkel cell carcinoma: This is a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer that usually appears as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule on sun-exposed areas of the skin.


    • Kaposi sarcoma: This is a rare form of skin cancer that usually affects people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS. It appears as red or purple patches or nodules on the skin.


    Risk Factors For Skin Cancer

    Several behaviors can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. The following are common risk factors that can lead to skin cancer in some people:


    • Excessive sun exposure: Spending a lot of time in the sun without protection can increase your risk of skin cancer.

    • Tanning: Using tanning beds or spending time in the sun to get a tan can damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.

    • Not wearing protective clothing: Clothing can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but not wearing protective clothing can increase your risk of skin cancer.

    • Not using sunscreen: Sunscreen can help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but not using sunscreen or using it improperly can increase your risk of skin cancer.

    • Having a history of sunburns: Getting sunburned can damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.


    Having a family history of skin cancer: If someone in your family has had skin cancer, you may be at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.



    How to Check Your Skin

    Now that you know what to look for, here’s how to examine your skin:


    • Stand in front of a wall mirror in a well-lighted room, just after a shower or bath.
    • Examine your face, ears, neck, chest, arms (and underarms), hands, stomach, and genital area.  Also, check the spaces between your toes.
    • Use a handheld mirror to help you better see your buttocks, backs of legs, bottoms of your feet and upper back in the full-length mirror reflection.
    • Sit down to examine your legs, the tops and soles of your feet, and in between your toes. Use the hand mirror to check the backs of your legs.
    • Inspect your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to part your hair and expose each section.
    • Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.


    If you notice anything questionable, see your doctor.


    Regular professional skin exams are important, too. Based on your personal risk factors and family history, your doctor can help you decide how often you should be checked.


    Ask your Rite Aid Pharmacist for more information on skin cancer and early detection.





    “How Do I Check My Skin?” American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/understanding-skin-cancer/how-do-i-check-my-skin


    “What Should I Look For?” Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection, American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skincancerpreventionandearlydetection/skin-cancer-prevention-and-early-detection-what-to-look-for.


    Step-by-Step Self Examination.” Skin Cancer Foundation, www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/step-by-step-self-examination.


    “Understanding Skin Cancer.” American Academy of Dermatologists, www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/understanding-skin-cancer.


    “Skin Cancer Information.” The Skin Cancer Foundation



    “What are the Risk Factors For Skin Cancer?” CDC



    These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.