Unlike internal cancers that are not visible to the naked eye, skin cancer is a disease that is easily controlled and treated if you are diligent about observing your own body. Skin cancer is caused by several factors, including ultraviolet damage and genetic makeup. To avoid a serious cancer diagnosis, it is critical to check your skin each month for any abnormalities. Once you create this examination habit, unusual skin areas are quickly pinpointed and evaluated by a professional to avoid cancer altogether.
Where To Look
Your skin is the largest organ of the body, making it easy to hide growths in hard to reach areas. The key to checking yourself monthly is using mirrors and taking your time. Start at your head and make your way down to your toes. Part your hair using a blow dryer to see all the exposed skin on your scalp. Use a mirror to look at your neck and back of the ears.
Examine your torso, including the armpits, back and breast undersides. Use a full-length mirror to see your entire back, along with a strong light. Continue to examine your legs, both front and back. Examine your fingers and toes by inspecting between each appendage, as well as the palms and soles.
You should use a mirror while sitting or standing to examine the genital region. Essentially, any skin surface has the chance at cancer, even if it is hidden from the sun constantly.
Skin cancer can develop as a new growth. If you see a new mole growing exponentially, with a brown, tan or swirled appearance, it is critical to have it examined by a dermatologist. Fast-growing growths may not be cancer, but their appearance is a concern for any person.
Moles or birthmarks that have been with you for years may mutate into a cancerous growth. Inspect your normal skin marks for any significant changes. For example, a normal mole should have a symmetrical shape. Asymmetrical marks, with unusual textures and changing sizes, should be examined immediately. A mark that is larger than 6 millimeters is another area that needs evaluation as well.
Marks that have open sores, from bleeding to pus generation, should be evaluated as soon as possible. No skin mark should have active bodily fluids flowing from the region.
Contacting A Professional
Keep an eye on the offending mark, and write down as much detail about the mark as possible. For example, you can note that the mark used to have an oval shape, but is now asymmetrical and changing colors almost daily. Any extensive details you offer your dermatologist helps them devise a test and treatment plan.
Tell them about your daily habits, including sunscreen use and outdoor exposure to sunlight. Any genetic information, such as skin cancer running in the family, is critical for an accurate diagnosis. Do not put off the examination. Skin cancer continues to grow and may become serious if ignored.
Spot skin cancer before it becomes a serious issue. Contact your dermatologist today with any questions to keep your health a priority.