Tips For Monitoring Your Skin For Signs Of Cancer

One of the most important things you can do for your health is to monitor yourself for signs of cancer on a regular basis. Skin cancer in particular is much easier to cure when it is caught in the very early stages. It only takes a few minutes to check yourself for skin growths on a monthly schedule. Here are a few tips for performing a self-examination for skin cancer.

Start With A Baseline

You probably have various moles, skin tags, and brown spots on your skin. Therefore, you may not know what is normal and what is an indication of early cancer. The best thing to do is visit a dermatologist for a full-body screening. That way you'll know what normal skin imperfections look like. When you do your monthly examinations from that point on, you can look for new growths and discolorations, as well as monitor the shape and size of the moles you already have.

Buy Mirrors

You'll need mirrors and good lighting to examine the back of your body. Install a full length mirror on a door or wall, and buy one or two large hand mirrors. Stand in front of the long mirror and position the hand mirror so you can see the sides of your body and the back. You can examine your lower legs and genital area while seated and using two hand mirrors. Examine the front of your body as best you can with your direct line of sight. After that, stand in front of the mirror and examine the backs of your arms, underarms, the sides of your neck, and your entire backside. Don't overlook any part of your body, because skin cancer can grow anywhere, even in areas not normally exposed to the sun.

Examine Scalp And Between Toes

Your hair protects your scalp from the sun, but it is still vulnerable to skin cancer unless you always wear a hat outdoors. Examining your scalp by yourself is difficult. You'll need to pull up small sections of your hair at a time. Try using a blow dryer to lift hair away from your scalp. If you normally blow dry your hair anyway, that's a perfect time to give yourself a monthly scalp exam. Don't forget to check between your fingers and toes too. Also check the bottoms of your feet, your ears, nose, and mouth.

As you go over your body, you should look for new moles, scaly spots, and discolorations. Keep track of the size of the moles you already have, because if they get bigger or change color, you'll want to let a dermatologist like Henry E. Wiley, III, M.D. know. In addition to your own monthly self-exams, it's also a good idea to have an annual skin exam from your dermatologist too, so suspicious spots can be removed while they are still tiny and in the precancerous stage.