Checking For Skin Cancer


Check your skin monthly on your own and at least once a year with your doctor. The earlier skin cancer is found, the better the chance for a cure. I look for 10 different features of a mole to determine the chance it could be abnormal. Generally if two or more features or present in a given mole, it is wise to consider obtaining a sample of the tissue through an in-office biopsy. Biopsies take only about 10 or 15 minutes and are much more exact than a simple visual inspection of the mole.
 
Here are the ten features to watch out for:
1.         Asymmetry - a lopsided mole
2.         Irregular border - as opposed to a smooth well marginated border
3.         Large - greater than 6 mm across
4.         Multiple colors - at least 2 or changing colors
5.         Crusting or oozing
6.         Elevating or rapidly enlarging
7.         New, if the patient is over age 40
8.         Ulcerating or bleeding or a sore that won't heal
9.         If a blood relative has had melanoma skin cancer that contributes toward risk
10.       An itchy mole - 25% risk for melanoma
 
 
Check everywhere, including your back, your scalp and the bottom of your feet. Part your hair with a comb or blow dryer on low speed to better see your scalp. Use a hand mirror to see your back and other hard to see places.

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