How to Check Your Body for Skin Cancer

How to Check Your Body for Skin Cancer

How to Check Your Body for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and early detection of skin cancer can save your life. The best way to find skin cancer while it is still in its early stages is by having a doctor examine your skin once or twice a year and by examining it yourself at least once a month. So what should you, someone without a medical degree, look for during your monthly skin examinations? 

Check your moles.

Most skin cancer becomes visible in the form of a mole. However, examining moles can be tricky. This is especially true for people whose bodies are covered in moles, most of which are healthy. 

The American Cancer Society suggests using the ABCDE rule when examining moles for skin cancer.

  • Asymmetry: Asymmetric moles are not neatly shaped and circular. Sometimes they are darker in some areas than others.
  • Border: If the border is not a clean line and instead blurred, ragged, or irregular.
  • Color: When the color is not the same throughout the mole. They sometimes have darker shades in certain spots or patches of red, pink, white, or blue in them.
  • Diameter: Any mole that has a diameter greater than ¼ and inch.
  • Evolving: If the mole changes in size, shape, and color over time. 

Other characteristics you should look for are if your moles are itchy or painful, have growths or lumps, open sores with oozing, or if any new moles appear. If your moles have any of the above characteristics, it does not mean they are definitely cancerous, but it does mean you should ask your doctor or dermatologist to have a closer look at them.

Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 36 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus