How to check for skin cancer (w/infographic)
June 27, 2016 | by Sara Lewis
Skin cancer remains the most prevalent of all cancers in the United States, more common than all other cancer diagnoses combined, and while melanoma is just a small portion of those cases (about 1 percent), it is the most deadly.
The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 80,000 men and women in the U.S. will receive melanoma diagnoses in 2016, with about an eighth of those cases becoming fatal.
- Did you know men are more susceptible than women?
- Or that whites are 20 times more likely to develop melanoma than any other ethnic group?
- Or that lots of melanomas develop independent of damage from UV rays?
- Or that, while the risk increases with age, melanoma is one of the most common cancers affecting those under 30 years old?
How can I detect skin cancer?
Early detection is key, according to the National Cancer Institute. When skin cancer is found early, it can be treated more easily.
- Talk with your doctor if you see any changes on your skin that do not go away within one month.
- Check the skin on all surfaces of your body, even in your mouth.
- Watch for a new mole or other new growth on your skin.
- Check for changes in the appearance of an old growth on the skin or scar (especially a burn scar).
- Watch for a patch of skin that is a different color and becomes darker or changes color.
- Watch for a sore that does not heal – it may bleed or form a crust.
- Check your nails for a dark band. Check with your doctor if you see changes, such as if the dark band begins to spread.
Skin exams are important for everyone
- Talk with your health care provider about how often you need a skin exam.
- You may need one more often if you have an increased risk of skin cancer.
- You have an increased risk if you have had skin cancer before, have a family history of skin cancer or have a weakened immune system.
- Conduct a head-to-toe skin self-examination once a month to check for suspicious moles.
Get to know the pattern of moles, freckles, blemishes and other marks on your skin.
Learn the ABCDEs of skin mole self-exams by downloading our infographic. Find out more about the City of Hope Skin Cancer/Melanoma Program.
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