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How to Examine Your Skin for Cancer in 5 Steps

You already know it’s worth giving your skin a regular look-over for anything new or suspicious. But if your scanning process tends to be a quick once-over, there’s no better time than now to get a little more serious.

Regular self-skin exams can play an important role in catching potential skin cancers early, when they’re easier to treat, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). You should be performing a self-exam once a month. If that is too much than committing to ANY kind of regular intervals is good.

Please note this is NOT a substitute for seeing your dermatologist once a year. This is in addition to that visit and the self-exam helps you stay vigilant.

1) Set up your exam space – You don’t need much, but a full-length mirror is a must with good lighting.

2) Start scanning – Your goal is to get a look at every patch of your skin from head to toe, including areas that don’t typically see the light or day. There’s no right or wrong to do it. We would recommend sticking with a specific order. Please don’t forget your hands and feet. Skin cancers can go unnoticed on the palms of your hands or feet especially in between fingers and toes.

3) Note anything unusual and get some documentation – While examining your skin, you ultimately want to watch for anything that seems new or different. Keep a look for the following:

a. The ABCDEs. Melanoma in particular is often marked by a mole with an asymmetrical shape, a jagged or irregular border, an uneven color, a diameter larger than a pea, or one that seems to be evolving or changing.

b. Any new growth that doesn’t go away.

c. Any irritated growth or sore that isn’t healing.

d. Anything you’re unsure about.

Don’t forget to take a picture of anything that is questionable.

4) Call the Dermatologist if needed and as soon you can for anything new or unusual.

5) Mark your calendar for your next time.

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