Catch skin cancer early. Photo: iStock
Quick and easy skin examinations, carried out by your doctor or a dermatologist, can catch skin cancer before it spreads.
Who needs it
Anyone who’s been in the sun, particularly people at high risk for skin cancer (those with fair skin, light hair, freckles and who have skin cancer in the family). If you’re over 40, check your own skin monthly and have a dermatologist check it at least once a year.
How it’s done
Here’s what you should look for in a self-examination:
• Any ulcer or skin wound that doesn’t heal within six weeks
• Any lump or growth that bleeds persistently
• Any suspicious, shiny, firm or raised skin growth (especially if it seems to have enlarged since your last check)
• Any red, scaly, encrusted surface of the skin that itches and doesn’t seem to be healing
• Any mole that itches, is tender or has changed in size, colour or shape.
Do this ABCD check for all moles:
• Asymmetry: the two halves don’t match
• Border irregularity: the edges appear to be jagged
• Colour: the colour isn’t uniform
• Diameter: it’s more than 6 mm wide
Check yourself in front of a fulllength mirror, using a hand mirror to view your back. Use a blow-dryer to separate your hair so you can check your scalp.
What the results mean
If you notice anything suspicious, see a dermatologist straight away. He or she can examine your entire body, remove any suspicious growths and send the tissue to a lab for examination.
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