Simple Steps to Early Skin Cancer Detection

A woman checking her own skin for any irregularities

Some people may think that the incidence of skin cancer is more prevalent during the summer months due to more time spent outdoors, but this simply isn’t true. Because the sun shines regardless of the season, skin cancer is a year-round risk. Affecting the lives of more than
2 million people in the United States each year, skin cancer is a health-related issue that is preventable and much easier to treat if addressed early on.1 While wearing sunscreen is vital to skin cancer prevention, other simple steps can be taken as a means of protection. It is also imperative to conduct skin self-examinations on a monthly basis so any changes to your skin can be addressed before they progress to a more serious state.1

Tips for performing a self-examination of your skin

When conducting a skin self-examination, you should focus on identifying any abnormal markings on your skin. Since irregularities can occur anywhere on your skin, it is recommended that you take the time to carefully examine areas that can easily be overlooked, such as your scalp and the spaces between your fingers and toes. In order to examine other areas that may be out of your normal line of sight, try using a handheld mirror to see all of the markings on your skin. Remember though, these markings don’t have to be entirely new; you should also be looking for any preexisting marks you may have, such as moles or birthmarks, that have changed. If you find a mole, birthmark, or even a beauty mark that has changed its borders, size, or color, be sure to contact your dermatologist immediately.2

Optimize your time at the dermatologist—go in prepared and know what to expect

Annual appointments with your dermatologist are essential to maintaining healthy skin and addressing any health concerns that may arise, but that’s only the first step. Keep these tips in mind before, during, and after your appointment to make the most of the time with your dermatologist.

Before your appointment

  • Come prepared with a list of any small changes you may have noticed during your monthly self-examinations
  • Remove any nail polish ahead of time so your cuticles can also be efficiently inspected3

During your appointment

  • Point out any areas of concern to your dermatologist that you may have noticed3
  • Ask your dermatologist what specifically to look for so you can continue to closely monitor your health between appointments3

After your appointment

  • Set up your next appointment before you leave your dermatologist’s office, so as to avoid future scheduling conflicts
  • Continue performing self-examinations every month
  • Share everything you learned at your appointment with friends and family. Remember, word of mouth is a great way to promote healthy living

Skin cancer is a serious issue, and we here at Obagi want each and every one of you to be healthy! If it has been a while since your last appointment, take the time today to schedule a checkup with your dermatologist.

References: 1. Early detection and self exams. Skin Cancer Foundation Web site.
http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection. Accessed November 8, 2012.
2. Step by step self-examination. Skin Cancer Foundation Web site.
http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/step-b.... Accessed November 8, 2012.
3. Make the most of your visit to the dermatologist. Skin Cancer Foundation Web site.
http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/make-t.... Accessed November 8, 2012.

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