Something you may not know is that your chance of developing a skin cancer is far greater than any other cancer. In honour of National Skin Cancer Month, the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) are working to bring awareness to the seriousness of skin cancers.
There are three common malignant skin cancers: Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The latter is the most dangerous form of skin cancer yet the most preventable. The CDA reports that the lifetime risk of melanoma for men is now 1 in 74, and 1 in 90 for women.
Keeping this in mind. Here are 6 tips for the early detection of malignant melanoma and other skin cancers:
Make It Monthly:
Check your skin every month on the first day of the month. This way you will always remember and skin cancers will be found earlier.
The best way to examine your skin for any new moles is to take off all of your clothes and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Check all of your skin including the backs of your legs, palms and soles and general area.
In addition to looking for new moles, look for or a change in moles. You are looking for a change in size, shape, colour or border.
The prognosis for skin cancer on the head and neck is worse than on other areas of the body. Since it is difficult to check your head by yourself, ask your hairdresser to check your scalp for you. This is best done when your hair is just about dry using a hair dryer to spread the hair.
Ruler And Camera:
If you have moles on your back or areas that you can't see make your own mole map. Take a picture of any mole with a ruler under it to document the size and characteristics of the mole. You now have a baseline picture to reference later with your monthly skin checks.
Consult a Dermatologist early. The earlier a skin cancer is found the better the outcome so see a dermatologist for a proper full body skin exam once a year or sooner if there is a concern. When melanoma is caught early (when the tumour is thin and has not spread to lymph nodes) it is highly curable by surgical removal.