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Self-Checking for Symptoms of Skin Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Since this type of cancer is becoming very common, identifying and treating it early is the key.

It’s vital to evaluate the health of your skin from time to time. It is recommended to do this every month. One of the most critical measures to take in identifying skin cancer early is to frequently carry out a self-check in any areas of concern and see a dermatologist immediately if you notice anything abnormal.

When you understand your skin’s features such as freckles, moles, and blemishes, you’ll most likely notice changes in mole size or color and other markings on your skin that were not there before. When this happens, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Before self-checking your skin for symptoms of cancer, you should know what to exactly you are looking for.

To perform a successful skin cancer check, you’ll need bright light, a full-length mirror, a handheld mirror, a blow dryer, and a cell phone or notebook to keep a record of any new spots you may find.

Performing a Self-Check

Stand before the mirror and thoroughly check the front, back, right and left sides of your body for any age spots, freckles, or moles. You should also check your forearms by bending your arms at the elbow. The hand mirror will help you check the back of the neck, while the blow dryer will assist you in checking the scalp. Make sure you exhaust every part of your body, including your underarms, underneath the breasts, areas between your fingers and toes, the scalp, and bottoms of your feet.

What to Look For During a Skin Cancer Self-Examination

The best way to know what to look for is to use the ABCDE guide for melanoma to check for unusual spots. If you notice a birthmark, mole, beauty mark, or a pigmented spot on any part of your body, see your dermatologist right away. One half of the spot may not look like the other, or the spot’s color may not be consistent. The spots may also look different in both color, size, shape, or texture. If the spots are sore, itchy, painful, crusty, or bleeding, go to the doctor.

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