How To Perform A Self
1. Examine your face
Especially your nose, lips, mouth and ears front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.
2. Inspect your scalp
Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.
3. Check your hands
Palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both the front and back of your forearms.
4. Scan your arms
Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Dont forget the underarms.
5. Inspect your torso
How To Spot Skin Cancer
Skin cancer;is by far the most common type of cancer. If you know what to look for, you can spot warning signs of skin cancer early. Finding it early, when its small and has not spread, makes skin cancer much easier to treat.
Some doctors and other health care professionals include skin exams as part of routine health check-ups. Many doctors also recommend that you check your own skin about once a month. Look at your skin in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see.
Use the ABCDE rule to look for some of the common signs of;melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer:
AsymmetryOne part of a mole or birthmark doesnt match the other.
BorderThe edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
ColorThe color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
DiameterThe spot is larger than ¼ inch across about the size of a pencil eraser; although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
EvolvingThe mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers;are more common than melanomas, but they are usually very treatable.
Both basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, or cancers, usually grow on parts of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. But they can show up anywhere.;
Basal cell carcinomas: what to look for:
Squamous cell carcinomas: what to look for:
Flag A Spot Thats Slow To Heal
Moles and skin spots can get scraped, bumped, and cut, but an otherwise healthy mole should heal quickly. If it doesnt heal within three weeks, that can be a sign of skin cancer, says Dr. McNeill, noting that this includes melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell cancers. That cancer warning holds true even if, say, the bleeding or oozing happens only occasionally; if the skin sore heals and then comes back; or if a scab develops and the scab takes a few weeks to heal.
Also Check: How Basal Cell Carcinoma Is Treated
Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Squamous cell skin cancers can vary in how they look. They usually occur on areas of skin exposed to the sun;like the scalp or ear.
Thanks to Dr Charlotte Proby for her permission and the;photography.
You should see your doctor if you;have:
- a spot or sore that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks
- a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over, or bleeds for more than 4 weeks
- areas where the skin has broken down and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, and you can’t think of a reason for this change
Your doctor can decide whether you need any tests.
Cancer and its management J Tobias and D;HochhauserBlackwell, 2015
Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology VT De Vita, TS Lawrence;and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer, 2018
Identify An Ugly Duckling
Just because a mole is, well, ugly, doesnt mean its cancerous. However, most normal moles on the body look alike. Any mole that sticks out among the others on your body in any way, is an Ugly Duckling and should be examined further, says Dr. McNeill. Perhaps the offender is bigger than the rest. Maybe its darker than your other moles. Or perhaps its the sole raised mark. No matter what, if its different, have a dermatologist check it out.
Pimple Or Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a very slow developing disease, often taking weeks, months, or even years to fully take hold. While pimples may come and go, a skin cancer bump or lesion will not heal on its own, and in fact will continue to grow and change its appearance over time. The average pimple stays on the skin for about a week and will begin to subside after popping it. Skin cancer pimples may pop, but that wont help them heal.;
One of the most surefire ways to tell the difference between a pimple or skin cancer is whether or not the bump goes away. Even the deepest of pimples will begin to fade over time, but skin cancer requires professional treatment.;
What You Need To Know About Early Detection
Finding melanoma at an early stage is crucial; early detection can vastly increase your chances for cure.
Look for anything new,changing or unusual on both sun-exposed and sun-protected areas of the body. Melanomas commonly appear on the legs of women, and the number one place they develop on men is the trunk. Keep in mind, though, that melanomas can arise anywhere on the skin, even in areas where the sun doesnt shine.
Early detection makes a difference
99%5-year survival rate for patients in the U.S. whose melanoma is detected early. The survival rate drops to 66% if the disease reaches the lymph nodes and27% if it spreads to distant organs.
Read Also: What Is The Main Cause Of Skin Cancer
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Do you know the stage of the cancer?
- If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
- Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
- What will happen next?
There are many ways to treat skin cancer. The main types of treatment are:
Most basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be cured with surgery or other types of treatments that affect only the spot on the skin.
The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your age and overall health
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
Should I Use A Skin Cancer Detection App
Anything that reminds you to look for signs of skin cancer is a good thing. However, some smartphone apps claim to be able to assess certain skin changes and inform individuals whether such changes warrant a visit to a dermatologist for further analysis.
Thus far, the accuracy of these is not high enough and relying solely on an app, rather than on your own observations and visits to a doctor, you could put yourself at risk by delaying a visit to the doctor when one is warranted. In one recent study, the most accurate skin cancer detection app missed almost 30% of melanomas, diagnosing them as low-risk lesions.
However, these apps are evolving, and one day they could become part of the arsenal to help detect skin cancer.;Smartphones can be useful in terms of telemedicine. For instance, in locations where dermatologists may not be readily available, a local physician can send a photo of a suspicious mole to a dermatologist and based on visual inspection and communication with that physician, determine what steps to take next.
You May Like: How Bad Is Basal Cell Skin Cancer
What Happens If You Suspect Skin Cancer
If youre worried about a spot on your skin, you should consult a dermatologist. A dermatologist can take a close look at your skin with a special tool called a dermatoscope to see if the spot is likely to be skin cancer. If so, your dermatologist can recommend a treatment plan. Skin cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancer, and some types can be treated with lasers or creams.
Ways To Tell If A Mole Is Cancerous
by Health Writer
From childhood through age 40, our skin churns out between 10 to 40 moles, which are basically clusters of pigmented cells . By and large, these moles are harmless. Its actually rare for melanoma to arise from a pre-existing mole, says board-certified dermatologist Valerie M. Harvey, M.D., co-director of Hampton University Skin of Color Research Institute in Hampton, Virginia. Instead, 71% of melanomas appear as new spots, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. To be vigilant, look out for new or changing moles and pay attention to moles that look distinct from the others, says Dr. Harvey. Here, the tell-tales to home in on.
Recommended Reading: How Fast Can You Get Skin Cancer From The Sun
The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancers — including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma — often start as changes to your skin. They can be new growths or precancerous lesions — changes that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. Learn to spot the early warning signs. Skin cancer can be cured if it’s found and treated early.
Melanoma: The Deadliest Skin Cancer
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, because it tends to spread if its not treated early.
This cancer starts in the melanocytes cells in the epidermis that make pigment.
About 100,350 new melanomas are diagnosed each year.
Risk factors for melanoma include:
- Having fair skin, light eyes, freckles, or red or blond hair
- Having a history of blistering sunburns
- Being exposed to sunlight or tanning beds
- Living closer to the equator or at a higher elevation
- Having a family history of melanoma
- Having many moles or unusual-looking moles
- Having a weakened immune system
Melanoma can develop within a mole that you already have, or it can pop up as a new dark spot on your skin.
This cancer can form anywhere on your body, but it most often affects areas that have had sun exposure, such as the back, legs, arms, and face. Melanomas can also develop on the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, or fingernail beds.
Signs to watch out for include:
- A mole that changes in color, size, or how it feels
- A mole that bleeds
You May Like: How Does Skin Cancer Feel
Pay Attention To The Doctors Experience
Does the medical team at a skin and cancer clinic have a lot of experience?
While good doctors graduate from medical school every year, ones with years in the field have a wider range of experience. Theyll have treated more patients like you and might be able to give you better recommendations.
As such, you should look for experience when choosing a doctor.
Look Out For An Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling is another warning sign of melanoma. This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. This highlights the importance of not just checking for irregularities, but also comparing any suspicious spot to surrounding moles to determine whether it looks different from its neighbors. These ugly duckling lesions or outlier lesions can be larger, smaller, lighter or darker, compared to surrounding moles. Also, isolated lesions without any surrounding moles for comparison are considered ugly ducklings.
Read Also: Is Skin Cancer Usually Raised
Finding Skin Cancer Early
When skin cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better. Get regular health checkups and see your doctor if you have any symptoms or are worried about your health.
If you have a higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about what can help find skin cancer early including checking your skin and having skin exams by a trained health professional.
Other Signs Of Skin Cancer
While moles can become cancerous, they arent the only way melanoma can creep in. Melanoma can also develop in places where there isnt a preexisting mole, Dr. Gastman says.
Melanoma can resemble a sore or a spot, a birthmark, a pimple or even a bruise. Melanoma can also show up as a dark line under a fingernail or toenail.
If you notice possible warning signs of melanoma whether in a mole or anywhere else get it checked out by a doctor. The earlier you catch melanoma, the easier it is to treat.
Don’t Miss: Do You Need Chemo For Melanoma
How Are Moles Evaluated
If you find a mole or spot that has any ABCDE’s of melanoma — or one that’s tender, itching, oozing, scaly, doesn’t heal or has redness or swelling beyond the mole — see a doctor. Your doctor may want to remove a tissue sample from the mole and biopsy it. If found to be cancerous, the entire mole and a rim of normal skin around it will be removed and the wound stitched closed. Additional treatment may be needed.
How To Identify The Signs Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the US today. Over the last 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all of the other types of cancer combined, and experts predict that one in five Americans will receive a diagnosis of skin cancer during their lifetime. Despite its prevalence, cancer still remains one of the most terrifying illnesses, and receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be an extremely distressing experience. Cancers that are detected early are far easier to treat than those in the late stages, so being aware of the signs of skin cancer is the best way to protect yourself against the disease.
What Skin Cancer Looks Like
Skin cancer appears on the body in many different ways. It can look like a:
Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others
Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns
Brown or black streak under a nail
It can also show up in other ways.
To find skin cancer on your body, you dont have to remember a long list. Dermatologists sum it up this way. Its time to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that:
Differs from the others
To make it easy for you to check your skin, the AAD created the Body Mole Map. Youll find everything you need to know on a single page. Illustrations show you how to examine your skin and what to look for. Theres even place to record what your spots look like. Youll find this page, which you can print, at Body Mole Map.
Know That Color Isnt Everything
Dont overlook an odd spot just because the color isnt troubling: At times, cancerous moles can be the same color as your skin, such as in the case of amelanotic melanoma. And for people of color, if any brown spots are also glassy, that could indicate basal cell carcinoma, which presents pink or pearly on fair-skinned individuals, says Dr. Harvey.
Don’t Miss: How Fast Does Melanoma Metastasis
How Do People Find Bcc On Their Skin
Many people find it when they notice a spot, lump, or scaly patch on their skin that is growing or feels different from the rest of their skin. If you notice any spot on your skin that is growing, bleeding, or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist. These doctors have the most training and experience in diagnosing skin cancer.
To find skin cancer early, dermatologists recommend that everyone check their own skin with a skin self-exam. This is especially important for people who have a higher risk of developing BCC. Youll find out what can increase your risk of getting this skin cancer at, Basal cell carcinoma: Who gets and causes.
Images used with permission of:
The American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;80:303-17.
Tests That May Be Done
The doctor will ask you questions about when the spot on your skin first showed up and if it has changed in size or the way it looks or feels. The rest of your skin will be checked. During the exam your doctor will check the size, shape, color and texture of any skin changes. If signs are pointing to skin cancer, more tests will be done.
In a biopsy, the doctor takes out a small piece of tissue to check it for cancer cells. A biopsy is the only way to tell for sure if you have skin cancer and what kind it is.
There are many types of skin biopsies. Ask your doctor what kind you will need. Each type has pros and cons. The choice of which type to use depends on your own case.
In rare cases basal and squamous cell skin cancer can spread to the nearby lymph nodes Ask your doctor if your lymph nodes will be tested.
Basal and squamous cell cancers don’t often spread to other parts of the body. But if your doctor thinks your skin cancer might spread, you might need imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans.