Skin cancer can be a very scary thing, especially if you know anyone who has had serious problems with it. Unnoticed, skin cancer can be deadly but the truth is that skin cancer is one of the easier forms of cancer to conquer when you spot it in time. If you pay attention and do regular self examinations, you can avoid serious complications. When you notice skin cancer in its initial stages, you have a good chance that it can be removed and you will be free and clear quickly. Of course, your self examinations should be in addition to an annual doctors exam; doctors trained eyes often spot skin cancer even quicker than you do.
Most of the marks that you see on your skin are normal occurrences but you will need to know the differences in order to conduct regular self checks. If you have 100 or more moles, you should be sure to do regular self examinations (paying careful attention to any changes in your moles) as you are more at risk for skin cancer. The following things are normal:
Symmetric marks; this means that you could put a line through the middle of the dark spot and it is the same on both sides of the line.
Smooth border; this means that the edges around the dark spot are smooth, usually fairly crisp.
Solid Color; normal markings do not have a variety of color in one marking.
Size; normal markings are usually no larger than ¼ inch in diameter.
Changes; normal markings do not grow and change shape or height.
Itching, bleeding, or other discharge; normal markings do not normally have these symptoms.
Now that you know what is normal, you can do self examinations. If you have markings that do not meet the above requirements, you need to see your doctor. He will be able to determine whether the marking (s) are normal or cancerous.
Checking yourself for early signs of skin cancer is not very difficult. All you will need is a well lit room that has a full-length mirror in it, a couple of chairs (or anything that you can sit on), a hand mirror, and a blow dryer.
First examine the front of your head, the back of your head, your ears, and your face. When examining your head, you will probably need to use the blow dryer to be able to see your scalp well. When checking the backs of your ears and the back of your head, you will need to use both mirrors.
Second, check both the front and back of your neck. Be sure to look at the underside of your jaw.
Third, check your shoulders (front), chest and stomach. Women should check beneath the breasts.
Fourth, check the front of your arms and legs, your hands, and the top of your feet.
Fifth, check your back, and the back of these body parts: shoulders, arms, buttocks and legs.
Sixth, (you will need to sit down), check the rest of your feet (use the hand mirror to see sides and soles).
Seventh, still seated, prop your feet on the second chair and use the hand mirror to examine your genitals.
By keeping an eye on your own skin, you will be able to spot changes more quickly than anyone. If you have moles, you need to get to known them very well as changes in them are warning signs. Remember that, caught early, skin cancer is almost always able to be cured. Do your regular self examinations and visit your doctor yearly to protect yourself.