O’Donoghue Dermatology Blog

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How to check your skin for skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and finding spots that could be cancerous is as simple as looking at your skin.

When examining the skin, look for the ABCDEs of Melanoma and make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist if any moles exhibit these signs:

A – Asymmetry: One half of the spot is unlike the other half.

B – Border: The spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.

C – Color: The spot has varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown, or black, or with areas of white, red, or blue.

D – Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm, or about the size of a pencil eraser when they are diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

E – Evolving: A mole or spot on your skin that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

To check your skin, looking at the front and back of your body. When examining your own skin, stand in front of a mirror. Examine your skin by following these steps:

  • Raise the arms and examine the right and left sides of the body.
  • Then bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, upper underarms.
  • Next, examine the back of your legs, spaces between your toes and your soles.
  • Then, examine those hard‐to see areas like your back, buttocks and the top ofyour head. Use a mirror to inspect the back of your neck and scalp, parting your hair for a better view.

“Current estimates show one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, so it’s important to be familiar with your skin, especially your moles,” said Dr. Rohrer. “Catching skin cancer early is key for successful treatment, so check your skin regularly and see a board-certified dermatologist if you spot anything suspicious.”

 

The American Academy of Dermatology’s Body Mole Map helps people keep a record of moles that are growing, bleeding, itching or changing. The Body Mole Map is a resource of the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer® public awareness initiative. Visitors to the program’s website — www.SpotSkinCancer.org — also can find stories of those affected by skin cancer and free downloadable materials to educate others in their community.

 

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