Checking for Skin Cancer

Checking for Skin Cancer

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Early detection of skin cancer is the best chance for a complete recovery. If left undetected and untreated, skin cancer can be fatal.
Regular checking of skin is the most important way to ensure skin cancer is detected and treated as early as possible. Here are some easy steps for how to check your skin for signs for skin cancer.
Get to know your skin
Become aware of what your skin normally looks like, which means examining all areas of your skin, including areas not regularly exposed to the sun.
Skin cancer is often visible, so regularly looking at your skin increases the chance of early detection. The Cancer Council of Australia recommends all adults, particularly over 40, check their skin at least every three months.
Trouble spots
Most people have irregular spots of skin, such as blemishes, freckles or moles. These spots are often harmless, but may be the result of sun damage and may be a sign that you are at higher risk of skin cancer. Keep an eye on these spots and look out for changes, which may be a sign the spot has become cancerous.
Most people have moles and they develop during childhood and the early teenage years, with the average Australian child likely to have more than 50 moles. People with a large number of moles are more at risk of Melanoma, a less common but more deadly type of skin cancer.
Typically, moles look very similar. If you notice a mole that looks different or if you notice a new mole that has appeared after the age of 25, you should consult your doctor.
Visit your doctor
You should consult your doctor if you:
* Notice a change in the size or shape of a spot, mole or mark on your skin.
* Notice something on your skin that was not previously there, including a new mole that has appeared.
* Are concerned about anything you have noticed when checking your skin.
How to check your skin
Examine your skin in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror using a handheld mirror to examine difficult areas. Undress completely and examine your skin slowly and methodically to ensure you have checked each body part.
Head
Check your whole face, nose, lips, mouth and ears and use a handheld mirror to check the back of your ears and neck. Use a comb and handheld mirror to part your hair and examine your scalp.
Body
Check your chest and torso, raising your arms to check the skin on each side. Women should raise their breasts to check the skin underneath. Check your back by standing with your back to a full length mirror and use a handheld mirror to check the skin on your shoulders, upper and lower back and the back of your arms.
Arms
Check your hands by looking at the front and back of your hands, in between each finger and under your fingernails. Check your wrists and the front and back of your forearms, then check your arms by standing in front of a full length mirror and looking at your upper arms, including your underarms.
Legs
Use a handheld mirror to check your bottom and the back of your legs while standing with your back to a full-length mirror. Face a full-length mirror to check the front of your thighs and lower legs. Check your lower legs by sitting cross-legged and checking the front and sides of both legs, ankles, feet, between the toes, underneath the toenails and the soles of each foot. Use a handheld mirror to check your genitals.

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