EARLY DETECTION IS KEY
You should examine your skin at least monthly. Make sure you check the back of your body, in your hair, and between your toes. Use a mirror or have someone check for you. Look for changes in moles, any new growths, sores that do not heal, and abnormal areas of skin.
Steps of a Skin Cancer Self-Exam
- Using a mirror in a well lit room, check the front of your body -face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs and lower legs.
- Turn sideways, raise your arms and look carefully at the right and left sides of your body, including the underarm area.
- With a hand-held mirror, check your upper back, neck and scalp. Next, examine your lower back, buttocks, backs of thighs and calves.
- Examine your forearms, palms, back of the hands, fingernails and in between each finger.
- Finally, check your feet – the tops, soles, toenails, toes and spaces in between.
Canadian Dermatology Association, patient handout “Melanoma Skin Cancer: Know the Signs, Save a Life” 2009.
When checking your own skin or that of your loved ones, keep in mind the “ABCDE’s of skin checks.”
A – Asymmetry. The shape of one half does not match the other half.
B – Border that is irregular. The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
C – Colour that is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
D – Diameter. There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than 6 millimeters wide (about 1/4″ wide).
E – Evolving. The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.
F – Firm. Is the mole harder than the surrounding skin?
G – Growing. Is the mole gradually getting larger?
Contact your doctor right away if you notice any abnormalities. Your doctor may also recommend that you examine your lymph nodes every month.
For full instructions on conducting skin self-exams, please CLICK HERE.