As with any cancer, early detection ensures your best chances for a complete recovery. Skin cancer is no different. Finding the early signs of melanoma is crucial to diagnosis before the cancer spreads.

Some patients are more at risk of developing skin cancer than others. If you have two or more family members who have had skin cancer, be on high alert for warning signs. Regardless of whether or not you have a family history, visit your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A suspicious mole or spot, particularly if it has changed in size, color, or shape
  • A new mole or spot, especially if it looks different than surrounding moles and spots
  • A mole that becomes itchy, bleeds, or develops a crust
  • A sore that never heals

In the meantime, self-examinations can be an effective way to find abnormalities as soon as they appear in an effort to treat any problem areas early. Try to give your body a thorough search every few months. For those who have never performed a self-examination, follow this step-by-step process:

  • Start with your face, as the area is largely in plain view. You may need to use a set of mirrors to check behind your ears.
  • Move to the scalp. With a blow dryer and set of mirrors, sift through your hair section by section. This may require help from a friend or family member.
  • Next, inspect from your elbows down. Check your palms and backs of your hands, moving up to the wrists and forearms.
  • In front of a mirror, lift and turn your arms to survey the upper arms and armpits.
  • Standing face-to-face with the mirror, peruse your neck, chest, and torso. Women should also lift their breasts to check beneath the folds.
  • Using a set of mirrors once again, turn away from the larger mirror to view your back and back of your neck with the hand mirror.
  • Continue to your rear end and backs of both legs.
  • Finally, sit down to check your genitals, fronts of your legs, feet, and soles of your feet.

In the event that a mole or spot develops, contact your dermatologist. We’re ready to take care of any issues before they become serious problems.