When it comes to cancer self-examination, what do you think of? Breast cancer, most likely (although the conventional wisdom on breast self-exams has changed in recent years). But there might be another form of self-examination which you may be neglecting, and it may be putting your life at risk.
According to the CDC, 76,665 people were diagnosed with some form of melanoma in 2014. Of those cases, 9,324 proved to be deadly. There are countless (and surprising) causes for skin cancer, and plenty of people are at risk. Self-examination can be crucial when it comes to skin cancer, as 44 percent of melanomas are discovered by patients and not doctors, according to Women’s Health.
To make sure you don’t become a statistic, a quick monthly self-examination can make sure you detect signs of skin cancer before it becomes a problem.
To start the examination, find a full-length mirror, and disrobe completely. Check every part of your body, using an additional hand mirror to make sure you don’t miss anything. Be sure to make note of any irregularities, and to check even in places not typically exposed to the sun. Although developing skin cancer in areas not exposed to U-V rays regularly is less likely, it still can happen.
During the examination, keep in mind the ABCDE’s of skin cancer when it comes to moles. Is It Asymmetrical? Is its Border not completely defined or irregular? Is it multi-Colored? Does it have a Diameter larger than a pencil eraser? Is it Evolving, changing shape, size, color, or starting to bleed/itch/or hurt?
If what you examine proves to be suspect, immediately contact your dermatologist—and make sure you know these surprising facts about the disease.