Self-exams are crucial for early diagnosis and effective treatment of skin cancer in Englewood/South Denver and Lone Tree
Skin cancer is a potentially deadly, and unfortunately common, dermatological condition. You can protect yourself, but there is not one single “magic bullet” to stop it. A three-tiered approach is needed. First, protect your skin from the harmful UV rays, which means avoiding tanning booths and using appropriate sun protection. The second step is annual cancer screenings by a professional, because early detection facilitates the most effective treatment with minimal scarring. The final step is regular self-exams, to watch for suspicious growths or skin changes between screenings.
How to perform a self-exam
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people of all ages and backgrounds should perform self-exams at least monthly. Once you are accustomed to the process, it only takes about 10 minutes. Be sure to look at all skin surfaces in every area of your body, including skin folds, backs of ears, between toes, and other easily overlooked areas.
To ensure a thorough inspection, it is best to use a body map and follow a standard plan:
- Begin by checking all areas of your face and mouth.
- Check your scalp by looking in a mirror and using a blow dryer to part your hair, or ask someone to check it for you.
- Check your fingers, and gradually work your way across your hands and up your forearms.
- Stand before a large mirror and examine your upper arms, beginning with your elbows and working up to shoulders and underarms.
- Using a large or full body mirror, methodically examine all skin on the front of your body.
- Stand with your back to the large mirror, and use a handheld mirror to view the backside of your body, from your neck down your back, buttocks, and legs to your heels.
- Finally, sit and inspect your gentiles, the fronts of your legs, and your feet.
What to do if you find something
The most common signs of cancer include “moles” or other skin lesions that:
- Appear suddenly
- Grow rapidly
- Change size, shape, or color
- Hurt, itch, or bleed
- Will not heal
- Contain multiple colors
- Are asymmetrical (one side is not a mirror image of the other)
The old adage “better safe than sorry” is never truer than when referring to your health. Don’t take chances. If you notice anything suspicious, visit one of our offices and have it checked out. We have two convenient locations, in Englewood/South Denver and Lone Tree, serving quality-conscious patients throughout the area. You can reach us at 303.756.SKIN (7546) to schedule an appointment.