Skin cancer is common condition with potentially devastating effects. The good news is, that with early detection, skin cancer can be treated. Knowing the warning signs of skin cancer and being keenly familiar with your body is key to detecting this disease.
Common moles often present the first signs of skin cancer. Noticing a new mole, or seeing changes to an existing mole, should be considered to be danger signs. Moles should be flat, round or oval in shape, and uniform in color. Brown, tan and skin-colored moles are common and healthy. You should be concerned if any of these factors change, or if you notice a new mole. It’s uncommon for people over thirty to develop new moles. If you notice a new one, see your health care provider and let him or her determine if you have cause for concern.
If you notice any of the following warning signs of skin cancer, see your health care provider immediately:
* A mole should be symmetrical. In other words, if you were to draw a line through it, right down the middle, it should look the same on both sides.
* Moles should have clearly defined edges.
* The color should not change throughout the lifetime of the mole. There should be no noticeable variation or difference in color.
* A mole should not become bigger nor should it become any thicker.
If you experience any of these changes, have the mole examined as soon as possible. Moles that bleed or itch can be signs of trouble. If you notice a new mole that seems to be growing quickly, have it assessed by your health care provider.
People are sometimes unsure of how to keep track of the moles they already have, and how to be on the lookout for new growths. The best course of action is to perform a regular self-examination of your skin, ideally standing in front of a full-length mirror. To be able to look for new moles, you must be familiar with your body and know where all of your existing moles are located. Otherwise, you can easily mistake a healthy birthmark for something its not. You need to know your body to be able to track any changes.
Begin by scanning the front of your body above the waist, and then do the same thing with your back. Raise your arms and carefully check beneath them. With your arms still raised in the air, scan both of your sides. Lower your arms and examine them thoroughly, both back and front. Check the backs of your hands, and then look at the palms. Don’t forget to look at both your elbows. Next, do the same thing with your legs, examining behind your knees, around your ankles and the on the undersides of your feet. You must inspect your buttocks, carefully parting your cheeks to look between them. Check around your genitals. If you are a woman you should look for moles beneath your breasts. Your face and neck should be checked, as well as your scalp.
Although this may seem a lot of area to cover, it should only take ten to fifteen minutes to scan your entire body, and you only need to perform the check once every three or four months. Those fifteen minutes are surely well spent if they can bring you a longer, healthier lifetime.
Know your body, and know the warning signs of skin cancer. Having this knowledge is your best defense against this potentially deadly disease.