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Self Exam: 5 Ways to Spot Skin Cancer

You may be practicing safe sun during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on sunscreen in the fall and winter even on rainy or snowy days. Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer most often caused by harmful UV rays from the sun and tanning beds. It damages your skin’s DNA and survival rates are grim as the disease advances. Here’s a sigh of relief: If detected early, melanoma can most likely be cured. To spot early warning signs, dermatologists have developed the ABCDE method shown here. Do this head-to-toe self-exam once a month and check in with your derm every year.

What you’ll need

Most of us already have these helpful tools on hand: a bright light, a full-length mirror, a hand mirror and a blow dryer (it will help you examine your scalp!).

What to look for

When we say give yourself a head-to-toe exam, we mean examine every nook for unusual-looking moles or brown spots including on your scalp, the front and back of your ears, under your arms, the underside of your breasts, and finger and toe nails. The Skin Cancer Foundation says to look for “ugly duckling” moles that stand out while “…normal moles resemble each other like siblings.” Here, the 5 warning signs you need to look for.

References

Skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection

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