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Skin Cancer Prevention & Screening

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. In the United States, more than five million skin cancers are diagnosed annually — more than all other cancers combined. Over the past few decades, skin cancer rates have increased. However, there are simple steps that can protect you and your family from skin cancer.

How to perform a skin self-exam

Performing regular skin-cancer self-exams is important for detecting any suspicious developments on your skin early so that prompt medical attention can be pursued. By following these simple steps, you can help protect yourself from the harmful effects of skin cancer:

  1. You will need a hand-held mirror and a well-lit room with a full-length mirror for a thorough self-exam.
  2. Undress completely and stand in front of the mirror, examining your entire body from head to toe.
  3. Check your face, neck, ears, chest, abdomen, back, arms, hands, buttocks, legs, and feet, including the soles and spaces between toes.
  4. Use the hand-held mirror to check hard-to-see areas like your back, scalp, and genital area.
  5. Pay close attention to any moles, birthmarks, or spots that have changed in size, shape, color, or texture.
  6. Take note of any new growths, sores that do not heal, or spots that itch, bleed, or become painful.
  7. If you notice any suspicious changes during the self-exam, have it checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

During a skin-cancer self-exam, here are some key things to look for:
  • Asymmetrical moles or spots with irregular borders
  • Changes in color, size, or shape of existing moles or spots
  • A sore that bleeds or does not heal after several weeks
  • Scaly, rough, or raised patches that may crust or ooze
What to do if you find something suspicious on your skin
  1. Contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment for a professional evaluation.
  2. Document the location, size, color, and any other relevant details of the suspicious spot. If you can't see a doctor right away, you might want to take good, close-up photos of the area to share during your visit. 
  3. Follow the recommendations and treatment plan provided by your healthcare provider to address any concerns or issues identified during the evaluation. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a dermatologist.
  4. Continue to perform regular skin-cancer self-exams and monitor any changes in your skin to stay proactive in protecting your health.
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