|Put Your Mind at Ease|
|While performing regular self-examinations will help your chances of catching skin cancer before it spreads, an examination with a skin care professional is always a good idea. Not only will an examination with a professional put your mind at ease, but will also assist you in checking areas of the body which are difficult to see, like the neck and back.
If during a self-examination you find any moles or irregularities which concern you, schedule an appointment with a skin care professional immediately. He or she will examine the area and perform a biopsy if deemed necessary.
Like most types of cancer, early detection is essential to a successful recovery from skin cancer. Remaining observant and paying close attention to your skin can help you spot skin cancer before it spreads.
Doctors recommend patients check their own skin regularly for any abnormalities, including a sore that does not heal, new growths, or other changes. When performing these self-inspections, it is best to stick to a routine. In a full length mirror, start at the top of your body and work your way down, looking at every part of your body (front, back, and sides). Be sure to check the bottoms of feet, fingernails, and toenails too. If it helps, take a pictures of the moles and date them to track any possible changes.
While you might be aware that you should inspect your moles regularly, you might not know what to look for. People often become confused about which features constitute an irregular mole, thinking, for example, that a raised or itchy mole is cause for concern. These features, however, are usually nothing serious. So, what does a regular or irregular mole look like? When checking moles, remember this handy mnemonic device which will help you remember what to look for: A, B, C, D, E.
- Asymmetrical – A mole is asymmetrical if its two halves do not match or have an irregular shape.
- Border – Abnormal moles usually have irregular, jagged, or blurred borders.
- Color – Normal moles have a normal, uniform color. Look for varying shades of black, tan, brown, blue, red, or white in abnormal moles.
- Diameter – Look for a diameter larger than a pea or a pencil eraser.
- Evolving – Has the mole changed in shape, color, or size over the past weeks or months?
Any of these abnormalities in moles, or skin changes about which you feel uncertain, should be brought to a skin care professional’s attention. The development of any new moles should also be carefully examined for possible cancer.
“Skin Cancer Screening (PDQ®).” National Cancer Institute. National Cancer Institute, n.d. Web.
“What Are the Symptoms?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Dec. 2013. Web.
“Make the Most of Your Visit to the Dermatologist.” Skin Care Foundation, n.d. Web.