How to Spot Skin Cancer May 18, 2021 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team
Regardless of age, gender, or race, anyone can get skin cancer. As we mentioned in our last blog, one in five Americans will likely get skin cancer by the age of 70. However, it’s important to note that when caught early enough, skin cancer is highly treatable. So, the question is, “how can you spot skin cancer?” Keep reading to find tips on what to look for, where to look, and when to look for skin cancer.
What To Look ForWhen doing a self-examination, you should be looking for spots that are new, changing, or unusual. If you notice any of these things (or itching or bleeding), schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. As a way to recall what to look for, remember the ABCDEs of melanoma...
- A for Asymmetry
- An asymmetrical spot has one half that is different from the other half.
- B for Border
- The border of the spot has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
- C for Color
- The color of the spot varies. This could mean shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue in one area.
- D for Diameter
- The diameter of melanomas are typically 6mm (or the size of a pencil eraser); however, they can be smaller.
- E for Evolving
- The spot has evolved over time and has changed in size, shape, and color.
Where To LookIt’s useful to know where to look for skin cancer when doing a self-exam. To be able to assess your body entirely, we recommend using both a full-length mirror and a hand mirror. To keep track of your spots or changes in your skin, take note of them using a body mole map like this one from the American Academy of Dermatology. It allows you to easily record the location and look of your spots, which you can use to compare the results of future examinations. Here’s where you should look...
- Full body overview
- While looking in the full-length mirror, examine the front and back of your body. Additionally, inspect both of your sides with your arms raised.
- Arms and hands
- Next, evaluate your forearms, underarms, tops of your hands, and palms.
- Legs and feet
- Scan the front and back of your legs. Then take a seat to check the tops and bottoms of your feet and in between each of your toes.
- Neck and scalp
- Next, grab a hand mirror to take a closer look at the back of your neck and scalp. It’s helpful to part your hair in a couple different ways to have a thorough look.
- Back and buttocks
- Lastly, examine your back and buttocks with the hand mirror.