Get naked to detect melanoma skin cancer early.
Always looking for ways to boost skin cancer awareness, the Melanoma Research Foundation has launched a new campaign designed to grab your attention. It’s called Get Naked! The point is to encourage people to strip down and take a good look at their skin.
Melanoma can be life threatening, but it is most treatable when it’s detected early. Since most skin cancers are detected by patients (who bring them to their doctor’s attention), self-checks are even more critical.
You know your skin better than anyone else. A self-check is not about documenting every mole and birthmark – it’s about knowing what is “normal” for you and what has changed. If an area of skin looks odd to you, or is changing in shape or color, make an appointment with a dermatologist to get it checked out.
ABCDs of Melanoma
There are four things that dermatologists look at when evaluating a mole:
- Asymmetrical—Melanoma lesions are irregular in shape while benign (non-cancerous) moles are usual symmetrical
- Border—Benign moles have smooth, well-defined borders while melanoma lesions are irregular
- Color—Moles that have more than one color or uneven color are more likely to be cancerous
- Diameter—Bigger moles are more likely to be melanoma (in general, if it’s larger than a pencil eraser)
Change Is The MOST Important Factor
The ABCDs of melanoma moles are followed by an E for Evolution to remind people that change is actually the most important factor to consider when doing a skin self-check for melanoma. Knowing what is normal for YOU, report any changes (e.g., size, color) to your dermatologist immediately.
Other Things To Watch
Here are a few more things to keep in mind when doing your skin self-check – or anytime you have a skin concern. Be sure to report any spot, mole, sore or spot that:
- Changes (remember the E for Evolution)
- Doesn’t heal
- Becomes painful, tender or itchy
- Begins to bleed
- Looks waxy, smooth or pale
- Is red and crusty, rough or scaly
- Is dark and under a finger or toenail (and isn’t from a known trauma to the nail)
Where to Look
When doing your self-check, look over your entire skin, including your scalp, bottom of your feet, between your fingers—even areas that never see the sun! User a mirror to your back and other hard-to-see places.
And don’t forget your eyes, which can also get a type of melanoma. You won’t be able to spot this yourself, so schedule dilated eye exams once a year starting at age 40 – or earlier if your ophthalmologist recommends.