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New Video Demonstrates Skin Cancer Self-Exam

SATURDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new video that instructs people how to do a self-examination for skin cancer has been released by the American Academy of Dermatology.

"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," Dr. Thomas Rohrer, a dermatologist in private practice in Chestnut Hill, Mass., said in news release from the academy. "Examining your skin only takes a few minutes, but it could save your life."

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, according to the experts.

"Current estimates show one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, so it's important to be familiar with your skin, especially your moles," Rohrer said. "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."

When examining your skin, stand in front of a mirror and use the following steps to look at the front and back of your body:

  • Raise your arms and examine the right and left sides of your body.
  • Then bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, upper underarms and palms.
  • Next, examine the back of your legs, spaces between your toes and your soles.
  • Finally, examine hard-to-see areas such as your back, buttocks and top of your head. Use a mirror to inspect the back of your neck and scalp, parting your hair for a better view.

During your skin examination, check moles for the ABCDEs of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry. One half of the spot is unlike the other half.
  • Border. The spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
  • Color. The spot has varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown or black, or with areas of white, red or blue.
  • Diameter. Melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser, when they are diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
  • Evolving. A mole or spot on the skin that looks different than the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

More information

Here's where you can find the "Skin Self-Exam: How to Do" video.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, October 2012

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