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Skin Cancer Self Examination

You need to self examine your own skin every month.

To try and remember when it is due:

  • For menstruating women - 3 days after cessation of menses.
  • The best time for monthly breast self examination.
  • For others when the month changes from one to the next.

When self examining take your time and be completely thorough.  Being on the surface of the body, skin cancer is visible to us.

You don't want to miss an odd looking lesion, so you must look at all your skin.

Technique

  • Undress totally. Use good light.
  • Getting into the shower is a good time.
  • Examine your upper limbs, then your lower limbs, your front and then your back.

Upper limbs

  • Examine one upper limb then the other.
  • Don't try and cover too much skin at once.
  • Break the limbs into segments (hand first , forearm next , arm last).
  • When examining , run the eye along all aspects of the limb -  front, then outer, back and lastly inner aspects.

Lower limbs

  • Again examine one lower limb then the other.
  • Examine the feet - remembering to look at the sole, between the toes and the nails.
  • Examine the leg between the ankle and knee.
  • Lastly examine the thigh.
  • Again run the eye along the length of the limb on all its surfaces.

Head and neck

  • Examine the head and neck area.

Torso front and back

  • Break the front into three sections.
  • Look at the chest and armpits, then abdomen,  then pelvis.
  • Then turn away from the bathroom mirror to examine the back and buttocks.
  • Use a small hand-held mirror to look in the bathroom mirror behind.
  • Break the back up into three sections (upper, middle and lower).
  • The back is the commonest site for melanoma in males.
  • In females it is between the ankle and the knee.

What are you looking for?

  • Any mole that has changed - enlarged , darkened, bled , feels different.
  • Any new mole that is irregular in shape or colour, more than 3 mm diameter.
  • Melanoma usually begin as a small pigmented lesions - brown or black.  
  • They enlarge to then become irregular in outline and colour.
  • Occasionally they can have no pigment and appear as red, pink , flesh coloured or even scar-like.
  • Any new solitary skin lesion after puberty needs assessment, with a dermatoscope.
  • Be especially careful of anything which is elevated, firm or growing.
  • Skin cancers can also present with altered skin sensation (pain or itch), failure to heal, bleeding easily.
  • Anything which looks like nothing else on you - "the ugly duckling".
  • Anything you don't feel is right.

Anything that seems abnormal on your skin should be reviewed within days to a week or two.

At the Bayside Skin Cancer and Medical Clinic, we offer comprehensive skin examination and assessment.

We recommend an annual professional skin cancer examination as part of your preventive care plan.

Please contact us for an appointment