Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. That fact alone should make you take sun protection more seriously.
Sunscreen, long sleeved shirts or pants, hats, and sunglasses go a long way when it comes to preventing skin cancer. But skin cancer can also develop in areas that are not as commonly exposed to the sun. That’s pretty scary, right?
So even if you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself from the sun, it’s also important for you to know how to spot skin cancer as it could save your life.
How to spot skin cancer?
The first thing you need to do to identify skin cancer is to self-examine. You should be doing this on a consistent basis – at least once a month. It takes no more than 10 minutes, so it’s not much to ask.
Here are a few simple steps to follow when you self examine:
- Pick one day a month (the first or last of the month is easy to remember)
- When you get out of the shower you’re naked and ready to go
- Go to a well-lit room with a full-length mirror and have a hand-held mirror for hard to see areas
- Go through the following areas one after the other:
- Face, neck, ears, and scalp (use a comb/blow dryer to part your hair)
- Front of body
- Back of body (use the mirrors)
- Sides of body and arms
- Hands and fingernails
- Toenails, soles of your feet, and the spaces between your toes
How can you tell if you have skin cancer?
During your self-examination you should look for:
- New or unusual bumps or growths on the skin surface (that look different from your others)
- Change in the size, shape, colour, or feel (itch) of a spot
- Sores that don’t heal
- Bleeding or oozing around suspected area
Sometimes it isn’t easy to know if a mole or lesion has changed from month-to-month. Luckily, you can use an app like SkinVision to keep track of the normal look and feel of your lumps and bumps. This means you won’t be missing anything important.
If you do find something, how do you know if it’s bad?
How can you tell if a mole is cancerous?
The following ABCDE method will help you to self-examine moles and lesions to help you identify issues you may want to take to your doctor for an expert examination:
- A – Asymmetry – One half of the mole doesn’t look like the other
- B – Border – Edges of the mole are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred
- C – Color – The color of the mole isn’t the same throughout the entire mole. Areas of the mole may be a combination of colors including brown, black, white, blue, pink, or red
- D – Diameter – The mole or spot is larger than 6mm, but cancerous moles may not always fit this description. Moles smaller than this can be cancerous as well
- E – Evolving – The mole or spot may be changing color, size, and shape
If you find anything unusual (even if you think it’s nothing) make an appointment to see your doctor immediately as time is a vital in surviving skin cancer.
Treating and curing this disease is easiest in its early stages. Later stages of skin cancer can still be treated and cured, it’s just far more difficult – so get to your doctor as soon as you can!
Skin cancer can develop anywhere, but with these tips on how to spot skin cancer, you should be able to identify it. It is important to pay attention to our bodies, especially in those areas that don’t get exposed as much as say your shoulders and back.
If you think you may have skin cancer contact your doctor to discuss your concerns. Although you can help to identify skin cancer, let your doctor be the one to determine if you do in fact have skin cancer and are in need of treatment.
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