Skin Self-examination

The earlier skin cancer is found, the better, so we recommend that everyone do a monthly skin examination on themselves to identify potential skin cancers early. 
Check yourself from head to toe like this:

Stand in front of a full-length mirror, using a hand-held mirror along with the full mirror to examine hard-to-see places. Carefully look at all areas of your body, including the scalp, back, buttocks, shoulders, backs of the thighs and genitals. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to examine places you can’t see – like your earlobes and the backs of your ears and head.

Knowing the “ABCDEs” of skin cancer diagnosis can save your life.
Use these simple guidelines to determine if you need to see a doctor:

A is for ASYMMETRY:  One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
B is for BORDER: Normal spots have smooth edges. Cancerous spots may have irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred edges.
C is for COLOR: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black or sometimes patches of red, white or blue.
D is for DIAMETER: Most melanomas are larger than 6 mm or 1/4 inch, about the size of a pencil eraser.
E is for EVOLVING: Melanomas usually change in size, shape or color.  They can also be different in appearance from your other moles.  They may be itchy and painful and may also bleed.
If you see one or more of these signs of possible skin cancer, make an appointment with a physician immediately.

Importantly, some melanomas do not fit the ABCDEs described above. Therefore, it is critical that if you detect any changes in the size, shape or color of a skin mark or the appearance of a new spot, get it checked out by a doctor immediately.

Other possible skin cancer warning signs include:
  • A sore that does not heal
  • A new growth
  • Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
  • Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
  • Persistent itchiness, tenderness or pain
  • Change in the surface of a mole – scaling, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a bump or nodule