Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than two million Americans afflicted by the disease every year. But the problem is, most people don’t know what to look for when doing their monthly self-examination. Luckily, the cure rate is high if diagnosed and treated early, so knowing how to properly self-examine is essential.
Here’s what to look for during your monthly body check:
- A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly or translucent, or is tan, brown, black or multicolored
- A mole birthmark or any brown spot that increases in size or thickness, changes color or texture, has an irregular outline, is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser, or appears after you’ve reached age 21
- A spot that continues to itch, hurt, scab, bleed or crust
- An open sore that does not heal after three weeks
And here’s how to do it:
- Check your entire body—literally head to toe.
- Start with your face, focusing on nose, lips, mouth and ears
- Move to the scalp, using a blow dryer to thoroughly examine each section
- On to the hands—front and back and under fingernails—and move up to the wrist and forearm
- Continue to the elbows, upper arms and underarms
- Neck, chest and torso are next, women should also lift to view under each breast
- Then turn to examine the back of your neck and back—it’s helpful to use two mirrors for this step
- Next, examine the buttocks and the back of both legs using two mirrors
- And finally, sit down to check your genitals, the fronts and sides of both legs, feet, between toes and under toenails, and on the soles of your feet
The biggest tip we can give you, though, is to take preventative measures that will surely protect you against skin cancer. Keep wearing that sunblock and keep up with your yearly skin examinations at Pinski Dermatology Chicago… Yes, this is your reminder to check the calendar!