How to perform a skin self-examination
Finding suspicious moles or skin cancer early is the key to treating skin cancer successfully. A skin self-examination is usually the first step in detecting skin cancer. The following suggested method of self-examination is from the American Cancer Society:
(You will need a full-length mirror, a hand mirror and a brightly lit room.)
- Examine your body front and back in mirror, then the right and left sides with your arms raised.
- Bend your elbows, look carefully at your forearms, the back of your upper arms and the palms of your hands.
- Look at backs of your legs and feet, spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
- Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror.
- Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
- Become familiar with your skin and the pattern of your moles, freckles and other marks.
- Be alert to changes in the number, size, shape and color of pigmented areas.
- Follow the ABCD guidelines when examining moles or other pigmented areas and consult your physician promptly if you notice any changes. The ABCD guides are:
Asymmetry: When half of the mole does not match the other half.
Border: When the border (edges) of the mole are ragged or irregular.
Color: When the color of the mole varies throughout.
Diameter: If the mole's diameter is larger than a pencil's eraser.
- Melanomas vary greatly in appearance. Some melanomas may show all of the ABCD characteristics, while other may only show changes in one or two characteristics. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.