Female doctor checking skin of girl with dermatoscope in a clinic

Spotting the Early Signs of Skin Cancer: A Guide to Regular Skin Exams and Self-Checks

Skin cancer is both dangerous and common worldwide. That means identifying the early signs is crucial to preventing it from spreading. Regular skin exams and self-checks can help detect skin cancer early, making it easier to treat. This article will discuss the early signs of skin cancer, how to perform regular skin exams, and what to look for during self-checks.

Types of Skin Cancer

Three types of the most common skin cancers are: 

  • Basal cell carcinoma: The most common type and usually appears on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, and arms.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Also appears on sun-exposed areas but can also occur on the lips and inside the mouth.
  • Melanoma: The least common type but the most dangerous and can spread quickly if not detected early.

Knowing these three popular types of skin cancer will help you keep informed.

Early Signs of Skin Cancer

Early signs of skin cancer should be taken seriously. Asymmetrical growths, those with irregular borders, moles larger than 6mm in diameter, and those with a mixture of colors may be warning signs. It is important to see a dermatologist if you have any of these symptoms.

How to Perform Regular Skin Exams

Performing regular skin exams is a crucial step in detecting skin cancer early. You should perform a skin exam at least once a month. It’s particularly important if you’re at high risk.

To perform a skin exam:

  1. Start by examining your face, ears, neck, and scalp.

  2. Move on to your arms, hands, and underarms, followed by your chest, stomach, and back.

  3. Check your buttocks, legs, and feet, including the soles and spaces between the toes.

Following these steps will help you properly examine your skin.

What to Look for During Self-Checks

During self-checks, you should look for new or changing moles, growths, or spots on your skin. Remember the ABCDEs of melanoma: asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter larger than 6mm, and evolving. If you notice any of these signs, immediately visit a dermatologist.

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