Let’s Get Naked For Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is most successfully treated when caught early

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

Now, there is a simple checklist that anyone can follow to check for signs of skin cancer. Take your clothes off, grab a mirror and have a good look-see to stay healthy and cancer free!

Thomas E. Rohrer, MD, FAAD, a board certified, practicing dermatologist from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, promotes skin cancer awareness and early detection practices along with the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Rohrer said, “Examining your skin only takes a few minutes, but it could save your life.”

About SPOT On

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has launched a public awareness initiative called “SPOT Skin Cancer”. The AAD’s motto for the SPOT initiative is: Prevent. Detect. Live.

Skin Cancer Basics:

  • There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
  • One in 5 Americans will have some form of skin cancer at some point in their lives.
  • Every year, over 2 million Americans are diagnosed with more than 3.5 million skin cancers.
  • Basal cell and squamous cell are more common and more easily treated than melanoma.
  • Caucasians are five times more likely than Hispanics and 20 times more likely than African Americans to develop melanoma.
  • If treated early, before it spreads, there is a 98 percent chance of beating melanoma.
  • If treated early, there is a 98 percent chance of being melanoma-free for at least five years after treatment.
  • Melanoma is responsible for 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.

Stay Safe

Prevention does not have to be expensive or complicated. There’s one main thing to remember—ultraviolet light damages the skin. This light comes from the sun and tanning beds, which should never be used. Never, ever use a tanning bed, especially teenagers and young adults.

Prevention is Simple

Again, do not use tanning beds and use plenty of sunscreen when heading outdoors. Sit in the shade. Wear wide-brimmed hats that cover the face and neck and lightweight clothing for the arms, legs and trunk area. These things will help keep the skin safe.

Remember that water can reflect sun onto your skin as well. So, use extra care when swimming, fishing and boating to protect everyone’s skin.

Where Can The Cancer Hide?

Skin cancer can hide in unsuspecting places like the soles of the feet or between toes. Self-examinations are the best way to catch skin cancer early, before it spreads.

Here are a few guidelines developed by the AAD to help people inspect their skin for potential cancers. Stand in front of a mirror and check the entire surface of the skin by yourself or with another person:

  • Raise your arms to check the sides of the trunk and underarms.
  • Lower your arms and check the chest, then turn around and check the back.
  • Check the tops of your forearms, then bend your elbows to see the back of the your forearms.
  • Look at your palms, the backs of your hands and in between each finger.
  • Use one or two mirrors to check the backs of your legs and buttocks.
  • Sit down to examine tops and soles of your feet and in between toes.
  • Check all the way around neck neck, front, back and both sides.
  • Use a mirror to check the scalp and behind your ears.
  • Click on the link below for a helpful video guide from the AAD.

The ABCs of Skin Cancer

The AAD recommends using an A, B, C, D, E methodology when examining spots and moles on the skin:

  • A for ASYMMETRY—The mole is not the same shape all the way around, but one half is oddly shaped compared to the other half.
  • B for BORDER—The mole is splotchy and uneven around the edges like a splat of paint.
  • C for COLOR—Different shades or discolorations of brown, black, red or blue.
  • D for DIAMETER—Melanomas can be smaller than a pencil eraser head (6 mm), but usually they are larger. Anything larger than 6 mm should be double-checked by a dermatologist immediately.
  • E for EVOLVING—Watch moles or spots for any changes. If they grow larger, discolor or change shape, head to the doctor.

Dr. Rohrer said, “Checking your skin for skin cancer only requires your eyes and a mirror. Involving a partner adds another set of eyes, which is especially helpful when checking the back and other hard-to-see areas”

“[I]t’s important to be familiar with your skin, especially your moles. Catching skin cancer early is key for successful treatment, so check your skin regularly and see a board-certified dermatologist if you spot anything suspicious.”

Skin cancer is best treated as early as possible. Take the time to check for signs of skin cancer. This guide can help identify the early signs of a cancer, so people can get help before it becomes high risk.

Review Date: 
October 24, 2012