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How to Spot Skin Cancer

With summer in full swing, it’s important as ever to take care of your skin. You all know that sunscreen is very important, but if you see a curious spot on your skin how do you know if it’s normal or something you should seek medical advice about? Here’s a quick guide to skin cancer and when to know if you should be concerned.

The Numbers

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. It doesn’t matter what your ethnicity or skin color, anyone can get skin cancer.


Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but if it’s caught early then it can be successfully and effectively treated. Here are a few warning signs you need to look for to see if that spot on your arm is potentially serious.

Asymmetry is one thing to look for. If one half of the spot is unlike the other half then it should be of concern.

The border is another thing to look at. If the outside edge irregular, scalloped or poorly defined? Does it kind of look like an octopus? Then you need to get it checked out.

Color is another indicator. If the color varies from one area to another in varying shades of brown or black, maybe even white, red and blue – it’s not patriotic, it’s an indication of a potentially serious problem that you need looked at.

The diameter will tell you a lot too. Melanomas are usually larger than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) but they can be diagnosed much smaller.

Evolution is not just something species go through, but moles or skin tags too. If you have a skin lesion or spot that is changing and looks different now than it did a few months ago in size, shape or color, then you need to get it checked out.

Skin Self-Exam

Think of your body as a map, a map that you need to memorize. You need to take stock of all of your spots – moles, freckles or age spots. Skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body, so you may need to get the help of someone for places that are harder to see.

Examine your whole body from the front to the back in a mirror. Raise your arms and look at your right and left sides too. Use a hand mirror to look at your scalp and the back of your neck, too.

Next, bend your elbows and look at your forearms, back of your upper arms and palms. Don’t forget the buttocks, either! You can check those in the mirror.

Finally, look at the backs of your legs and feet, spaces between your toes and the soles of your feet. It’s a complete head to (space between) toe exam!

If you find anything you are concerned about, have it looked at by a medical professional today.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jason Trbovich

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