How to Examine Your Skin for Skin Cancer

Learn how to examine your skin for skin cancer from board-certified dermatologist Ahmet Altiner in this Howcast video.

Transcript

How do I examine myself for skin cancer? It's a very important question. First is how often you should examine yourself. I recommend once a month. A month is a log enough time to notice any changing moles. Yet it is short enough that if you notice a change, a dermatologist can do a biopsy and give you a definitive diagnosis.

When you examine yourself, it's important to be in front of a mirror, completely undressed, and have a handheld mirror. This will allow to see not only the front, but also your back. It is important to examine your nails, your palms and your soles, your mouth as much as you can, and also your eyelids. These are oftentimes missed spots that can cause problems in the future if you don't examine them regularly.

What are you looking for? This can be difficult to answer, as skin cancer can look very different. Melanomas will oftentimes present as changing moles or dark new spots. Any spots that are itchy, bleeding or painful are also suspicious.

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas almost always present on sun-exposed areas. So a new bump on the nose, the ear, the cheek is important to get examined by a dermatologist to make sure it's not a non-melanoma skin cancer.

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