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 detection is skin self-exams each month. That 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 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. Skin 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
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. Women should also check the underside of their breasts.
- Use a hand mirror to help you better see your buttocks, backs of legs, and upper back in the full 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 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.