While there's no way to substitute for a professional examination, checking for signs of skin cancer at home is essential. It's often the case that noticing the earlier signs of cancer prompts patients to approach a professional. Also, carrying out a skin cancer check is simpler than you think.
First, understand what you need to look for
The easiest way to check for potential cancerous changes involves following the ABCDE approach:
- Asymmetry of moles and marks
- Borders, they shouldn't be uneven
- Colour, it shouldn't vary throughout the mole
- Diameter should be less than 6mm
- Evolving, watch out for moles that change
If you notice any of the signs above, visit a professional for a skin cancer check.
Move through each area of your body systematically
To make sure you don't miss areas, move through your body systematically. It helps to have a full-length mirror and a handheld one, as you can use the two together to look at awkward-to-reach areas. Take a top-to-toe approach, starting with your face. As one of the areas that receives the most sun exposure, it's at a particularly high risk for developing cancerous lesions. Other areas that are at high risk include the hands and the feet or the arms and legs if you work outdoors. When it comes to looking at your back, use your handheld mirror to examine. Or, if possible, ask a friend or loved one to help.
Don't forget hidden areas
While checking for unusual growths, don't neglect hidden areas. Using a brush and/or hairdryer, examine your scalp. Additionally, check your fingernails and toenails for unusually dark marks beneath the nail.
Make a note of your moles the first time you check
If you're carrying out a check for the first time, make a note of moles and their appearance so you can successfully identify changes in the future. To make this easier, you may want to take photos using a smartphone or digital camera. If you're unsure as to whether a mole is new, consider approaching a professional so they can provide you with a reliable baseline.
Responding appropriately to changes and blemishes
Most, if not all, people will see changes to their skin as they age. From wrinkles to sunspots, the signs of ageing can present themselves in innocent and non-dangerous ways. If you spot the signs of ageing, you can approach a professional for anti-wrinkle treatments. On the other hand, if you do notice anything that seems unusual, arrange for an expert skin cancer check to confirm or eradicate your suspicions.