How to Take Control in the Fight Against Melanoma

The first line of defense against skin cancer starts with you. Examine your skin on a regular basis for signs of skin cancer and consult a dermatologist if you notice anything suspicious. These simple steps can help ensure that skin cancer is diagnosed in its earliest, most treatable stage. Below you will find information about how to examine your skin and what signs to look for.

Steps to a self-examination

  1. Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then look at the right and left sides with your arms raised.
  2. Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper underarms and palms.
  3. Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes and the soles of your feet.
  4. Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.
  5. Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

What to look for: The ABCDEs of Melanoma

Consult your dermatologist immediately if any of your moles or pigmented spots exhibit any of the following:

  • One half is unlike the other half.
  • An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
  • Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black; or is sometimes white, red or blue.
  • Melanomas usually are greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
  • A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

* Information provided by the American Academy of Dermatology

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