Skin Cancer Self-Exam
We all know that it's not healthy to be a sun worshipper. But did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S.? The National Cancer Institute estimates that 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once. Although the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin that freckles easily, anyone can get skin cancer.
As with all cancer, early detection is the key to treatment and survival. You can improve your chances of finding skin cancer promptly by regularly performing a skin self-exam. Here's how:
Start with a well-lighted room, a full-length mirror and a handheld mirror. You'll be looking for a change in the size, texture or color of a mole, or for a sore that does not heal.
Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.
Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms; forearms, including the undersides; and the upper arms.
Examine the back and front of your legs. Also look between your buttocks and around your genital area.
Sit and closely examine your feet, including the soles and the spaces between the toes.
Look at your face, neck, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move your hair so that you can see better.
By performing regular self-exams, you'll become familiar with what your moles, blemishes and birthmarks usually look like. If you find anything unusual, see your health professional right away. For more information on skin cancer, visit www.cancernet.nci.nih.gov.
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