How to Do a Self-Check for Skin Cancer

SATURDAY, May 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Learning how to do a skin self-exam could save your life.

"Skin cancer is one of the few cancers you can see with the naked eye," said Dr. Ali Hendi, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"Yet sadly, many people don't know how to be their own hero when it comes to skin cancer, including what to look for on their skin or when to see a board-certified dermatologist," he added in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five Americans develops skin cancer, and one person dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease.

To check your skin, use a full-length mirror to examine your entire body, front and back. Then, raise your arms and look at your right and left sides, Hendi said.

Bend your elbows and carefully check your forearms, underarms and palms. Look at the backs of your legs and feet, between your toes, and the soles of your feet. With nail polish removed, check your fingernails and toenails, as well.

Use a hand mirror to check the back of your neck and scalp, and part your hair for a closer look. Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror. Ask a partner to help check your back and other hard-to-see areas.

"While performing a skin self-exam, keep in mind that skin cancer can develop anywhere on the skin, not just in areas that are exposed to the sun," Hendi said.

"If you notice any new spots on your skin, scalp or nails, spots that look different from other spots on your body, or spots that are changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist," he advised.

Hendi also explained the ABCDEs of checking for melanoma.

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a spot is unlike the other half.
  • B is for Border: The spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined edge.
  • C is for Color: Colors vary from one area of the spot to another, from shades of tan, brown or black, for instance, or areas of white, red or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: When diagnosed, melanomas are usually larger than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser), but can be smaller.
  • E is for Evolving: The spot looks different or is changing in size, shape or color.

See a medical professional if you have any of these signs or notice an existing mole start to change in any way.

"When detected early, skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable, making it imperative to check your skin regularly," Hendi said. "It only takes a few minutes to check your skin, and it could save your life."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on skin cancer (https://www.cancer.gov/types/skin ).

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, May 2018

Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Henry Ford Allegiance Health or performed by Henry Ford Allegiance Health physicians.

All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
Copyright © 2008 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

Even though you may feel tempted to avoid people when you feel stressed, socializing with friends will help you feel less stressed.