Self Evaluation for Skin Cancer
Pay attention to your skin! Patients are encouraged to monitor their own skin with self-exams monthly and see a dermatologist at least once a year or sooner if a problem is suspected. For Self examinations, checking immediately after bathing is the best time. Check every area of your skin, because (although rare) melanoma can develop even in areas not exposed to direct sunlight. People with darker skin are also susceptible to skin cancer and should check their skin too.
Use the ABCDE’s to remember what to watch for. If you notice any unusual spot or growth, check for these warning signs. If you are concerned at all, contact our expertly trained dermatologists.
- A. is for ‘Asymmetry’ – Do your freckles or moles appear uneven? Does one side match the other?
- B. is for ‘Border’ – Do the edges look jagged, irregular or have notches taken out of them?
- C. is for ‘Color’ – One solid color is good. Multiple colors in the same mole is bad.
- D. is for ‘Diameter’ – A mole larger 6mm or bigger than the head of a pencil eraser is cause for concern.
- E. is for ‘Evolution’ – Has the mole been changing? Is it getting bigger, changing shape or color?
In addition look for any spots that:
- Are new
- Bleed, hurt, or itch
- Are sores that don’t heal
- Have dark, discolored, reddish, or flaky patches
Any unusual or newly developed spot you see, or any changes you notice in existing freckles and moles could be a warning sign – contact Sanova Dermatology.
Self Examination Instructions
When performing a self-examination of the skin, use small mirror for difficult to see areas, as well as a full body mirror.
Perform your examination from head to toe. Begin with your scalp, neck, face, ears, and throat area. A hair dryer or comb can be helpful in parting your hair, allowing you to clearly see your scalp.
Look over your arms, legs, chest, and abdomen. Next, inspect your back using the hand-held mirror. Be sure to check the undersides of your arms, including your armpits.
Look closely at your hands, including fingernails, cuticles, palms, backs of fingers and hands as well as wrists. Continue up your arms, checking front and back, using a mirror where needed.
Pay special attention to your upper back, and your legs as these regions are the most susceptible to potentially deadly melanoma. Check the fronts and backs of both legs closely, as well as your genitals and buttocks area. Even skin that is not exposed to sunlight can develop cancer.
When you check your feet, be thorough. Look at the tops and bottoms, as well as between your toes. This is particularly important for dark skinned patients. Six out of ten melanomas diagnosed in African American patients are found in the foot area.
Contact Sanova Dermatology
Examining your skin once a month could be a life-saving measure! If you find a new spot on your skin, or see that an existing mole or freckle has changed, contact the physicians at Sanova Dermatology to have it evaluated.