Have you had your Annual Skin Cancer check-up?
Schedule with a board-certified dermatologist (preferably Moh’s trained) for a full body skin cancer check-up. Think of these appointments the same way you do your annual PAP Smear, Breast Exam and Complete Physical.
A good dermatologist will check the soles of your feet, between your fingers and toes, your entire scalp, and, if you ask, your privates.
(Ladies, it is time to get out that hand mirror and check yourself out. It is unusual but not uncommon to find melanoma in the delicate places of a woman’s body.) If you have something your are unsure of and are uncomfortable asking your dermatologist to look at it, then ask your gynecologist.
There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. The most serious is melanoma followed by squamous and last of all, basal cell. Let’s review some of the basics of looking for abnormalities of the skin. The A, B, C, D and E of evaluation are:
A Asymmetry: If you folded the lesion in half, would the the sides match? For instance, A melon is symmetrical, a butternut squash is not.
B Border: The border of a normal mole is even, not jagged.
C Color: Look for unusual colors such as pink, purple, red, black, white or a mixture of colors.
D Diameter: The size of any lesion should be no larger than 2 mm, the size of a pencil eraser.
E Elevation: Any elevation or height of any type of lesion should be looked at by a dermatologist.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of these full body skin cancer check-ups! One doesn’t die of melanoma of the skin, one dies of metastasis of melanoma throughout the body. The invasion is thorough and rapid, the death painful and slow. Don’t be ignorant of the signs. If you cannot afford to do this, there are physicians who offer to do these evaluations at no charge.
Go to http://www.aad.org/public/exams/screenings.
(First published 9/30/10)