Did you know that an estimated 4.3 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the US annually and result in 3,000 deaths? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies of melanoma every hour in the United States. The Foundation adds that more people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer than all the other cancers combined. But skin cancer is curable when it is found and treated in its early stages. The best way to know if you may have skin cancer is to self-examine monthly.
Mapping Your Body
Every month you will want to set aside some time to carefully examine every inch of your body. We recommend download a body map from The Skin Cancer Foundation to make it easy to document your findings and to ensure you inspect your entire body.
The Purpose Of A Self Skin Check
To identify and document current moles, freckles, bumps, scabs, sores, birthmarks, or scaly patches on your skin. By keeping a record of these marks, it makes it easier to keep track of any changes to the color, shape or texture of every mark. Becoming aware of every mark or scar on your body is the first line of defense against skin cancer.
What To Look Out For?
- Any type of skin discoloration ( freckles, moles, birthmarks, bumps)
- Scabs that do not heal properly or open bleeding areas of the skin/
- Extremely dry, scaly patches.
- Any visible changes to existing marks, such as a change in color, shape, or size
- Any new bumps, moles or freckles.
What You Need To Perform Your Self-Examination
- a full-length mirror
- a bright light (and, perhaps, a flashlight for extra intensity)
- a blow-dryer
- a hand mirror
- a pencil
- a body map
How To Perform A Skin Check Self Exam
- Begin with your face and include your ears (front and back), nose, mouth, and lips. Use both your mirrors, if necessary.
- Examine your scalp. To expose each section, use a blow-dryer and a mirror. Ask for assistance from your partner or a family member.
- Checking your hands includes examining your, palms on both sides, wrists, fingernails (above and underneath), fingers, between your fingers, and the front and back of your forearms.
- Stand in front of the full-length mirror you are using and check out all sides of your upper arms, elbows, and underarms.
- Then take a look at your neck, chest, and torso. Women should lift their breasts to make the bottom visible to make it easier to examine the whole breast for any suspicious markings.
- The back of your body is a little more difficult to see, so use your full-length and hand mirror to check your shoulders, neck, and your upper arms and back.
- Use both mirrors to inspect your buttocks, lower back, and the backs of your legs.
- Examine the front and sides of your legs, ankles, and your feet’s top, between toes, toenails, soles of feet, and heels.
How long will self-examination take to complete?
Once you establish your exam as a habit, you will probably be able to complete your search in about ten minutes, or so.
What To Do If I Find Something Suspicious?
Always make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist immediately if you notice any significant changes or new growths.
In addition to monthly self-examinations, we recommend scheduling a professional skin exam with one of the Asarch Center’s experienced dermatologists once a year. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that one-in-five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. Learn how to assess your risk factors and how to prevent this common disease with an appointment from the experts at the Asarch Center.