How to Catch Skin Cancer Early

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How to Catch Skin Cancer Early. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, accounting for nearly half of all cancers. Recognizing any new or suspicious growths is the key to early treatment of skin cancer. Self examination of the skin is the best way to spot the early warning signs of skin cancer.

Things You'll Need

  • Bright light
  • Body chart
  • Full-length mirror
  • Hand mirror
  • Two chairs or stool
  • Blow dryer

Examine your head and face. Use one or both mirror and use the blow dryer to move the hair on your scalp so you can inspect it.

Check your hands and nails. Using the full-length mirror, examine your arms, elbows and underarms.

Focus on your chest, neck and torso. Using the hand mirror, inspect the back of your neck, upper arms, shoulders, back, backs of your legs and buttocks.

Sit down and check your legs and feet. Don't forget to check your heels, soles and toenails.

Use a hand mirror to examine the area around your genitals.

Look for any brownish marks on the skin that were not there before. Moles that are asymmetrical and have uneven borders may be cancerous. Most moles are a single shade of brown or black, but a cancerous mole is often varied shades of brown, tan or black.

Call your doctor. If you see anything suspicious when you conduct your self exam, call your physician. A dermatologist can recognize melanoma (skin cancer) at its early stage.

Tips & Warnings

  • The American Cancer Society recommends that people between the ages of 20 and 39 should have a skin exam by their personal doctor or dermatologist every 3 years, and that people age 40 or older should be examined every year.

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