The rate of melanoma cases is on the rise. At least 90,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year alone. Keep in mind that melanoma and other skin conditions may show some visible signs. If you're tuned in, those visual clues can be helpful for a diagnosis.
The Skin Cancer Foundation says you should do a head-to-toe exam of your skin every month. You’ll want to look for new or changing lesions that may be cancerous or pre-cancerous. The organization says skin cancers are almost curable when found and removed early.
(Tip: Need help tracking changes to your skin and moles? Check out Miiskin on the iTunes store, an app that helps you note changes in suspicious-looking skin and moles.)
Below is a step-by-step guide to checking for melanoma or skin cancer. Before you begin, you’ll need a bright light, a full-length mirror, two chairs or stools, a blow dryer, body maps and a pencil.
|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. 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 carefully: 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. Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don’t forget the underarms.
|5. Next, focus on the neck, chest and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the undersides.
|6. With your back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4.
7. Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks and backs of both legs.
|8. Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check the front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin, ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of feet and heels.