It’s recommended you check your skin once a month. Self-examination is best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Your self-exam should consist of looking at your entire body, including your back, scalp, palms and soles. A hand-held mirror can be used for areas that are hard to see. A spouse or close friend or family member may be able to help you with these exams, especially for those hard-to-see areas like the lower back or the back of your thighs.
The first time you inspect your skin, spend a fair amount of time carefully going over the entire surface of your skin. Learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you will notice any changes.
The key to detecting skin cancers is to notice changes in your skin. Look for:
- Large brown spots with darker speckles located anywhere on the body.
- Dark lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, fingertips toes, mouth, nose or genitalia.
- Translucent pearly and dome-shaped growths.
- Existing moles that begin to grow, itch or bleed.
- Brown or black streaks under the nails.
- A sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens.
- Clusters of slow-growing scaly lesions that are pink or red.
The American Academy of Dermatology has developed the following ABCDE guide for assessing whether or not a mole or other lesion may be becoming cancerous.
Asymmetry: Half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape or color.
Border: The edges of moles are irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined.
Color: The mole is not the same color throughout.
Diameter: The mole is usually greater than 6 millimeters when diagnosed, but may also be smaller.
Evolving: Moles or skin lesion that is different from the rest, or changes in size, shape, or color.
If any of these conditions occur, please make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists right away.