Monday, May 14, 2012


Skin cancer has the advantage of being the only cancer that can be seen on the surface of the skin.  By performing a skin self-exam, you can detect early the warning signs of skin cancer and increase your chances of a good outcome with early treatment.  Adults should regularly examine their skin once a month looking for abnormal skin growths and changes.

Although basal cell carcinomas usually appear on sun damaged, over-exposed areas of the skin, skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body.   In a self –exam it is important to check the all over the scalp, soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, and even beneath finger and toenails.

The American Academy of Dermatology has published a Body Mole Map on their website at  It walks you through how to do a skin exam, the ABCDE’s of evaluating moles, and how to map and record your findings.

To begin it is helpful to have a full length mirror, a handheld mirror, plenty of light, and the Body Mole Map or similar.   Some things to look for are:

Moles that are different from the rest, itches, bleeds, or is changing in any way — even if the mole is    smaller than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser)
Sores that never fully heal
Translucent growths with rolled edges
Brown or black streaks underneath a nail
Clusters of slow-growing, shiny pink or red lesions
Waxy-feeling scars
Flat or slightly depressed lesions that feel hard to the touch

If you find a suspicious lesion, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer has a high cure rate when detected early.

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