Monday, May 05, 2008

Skin Self Examinations

When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is a lifesaver....and detection begins at home! Just like you should be doing a month breast self-exam, it's good to also check your skin for strange moles or markings that could spell trouble.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, here is how you should preform at-home self examinations for skin cancer:

Coupled with a yearly skin exam by a doctor, self-examination of your skin once a month is the best way to detect the early warning signs of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, the three main types of skin cancer. Look for a new growth or any skin change.

What you'll need: a bright light; a full-length mirror; a hand mirror; two chairs or stools; a blow-dryer.

scillus1.gif Examine head and face, using one or both mirrors. Use blow-dryer to inspect scalp.
scillus2.gif Check hands, including nails. In full-length mirror, examine elbows, arms, underarms.
scillus3.gif Focus on neck, chest, torso. Women: Check under breasts.
scillus4.gif With back to the mirror, use hand mirror to inspect back of neck, shoulders, upper arms, back, buttocks, legs.
scillus5.gif Sitting down, check legs and feet, including soles, heels, and nails. Use hand mirror to examine genitals.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is especially hard to stop once it has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. But it can be readily treated in its earliest stages. For more information on how to recognize melanoma, see the ABCDEs of Melanoma. Also, check out AK and Other Precancers, Basal Cell, and Squamous Cell for information on how to identify the warning signs for these cancers.

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