Skin self-checks: how to do one and what to look out for
Like most cancers, early identification and treatment of skin cancer gives you a better chance of avoiding surgery or more serious outcomes, whether it’s melanoma or other skin cancers that may spread to other parts of the body.1 So, what can you do to spot skin cancers sooner rather than later? And are there any tell-tale skin cancer symptoms you should be on the lookout for?
Getting to know your skin
The first important thing you can do is get to know your skin – by understanding what looks and feels normal for your skin, you’ll be able to notice any changes more easily. Get into the habit of checking your skin regularly to see if there are any changes to existing spots or if any new spots have popped up.1
Where to look?
It’s important to check your whole body from head to toe – including places that you might not think to check, such as between your fingers and toes. While skin cancer is usually associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, it can sometimes occur in places on the body that don’t see sun exposure very often or even at all.1,2
When you’re performing your skin checks, it’s best to get naked and use a mirror to check those hard-to-see places such as your back. You may also want to enlist the help of someone else to check areas such as your scalp.1
What to look for?
While each type of skin cancer does have its own characteristic features, the key things to be watching out for are changes in existing spots or the appearance of new spots.1,2
Here’s a list of questions to ask as you’re doing your skin self-checks:1,2
- Do I have any new moles or other new spots?
- Do I have any moles or spots that look or feel different from other areas of my skin?
- Do I have any moles or spots that have changed in size, shape, colour, or texture?
- Do I have any moles, spots, or sores that itch or bleed?
- Do I have any sores that haven’t healed after a few weeks?
It’s important to remember that a skin change does not automatically mean it’s skin cancer, so always visit your doctor for a skin cancer check to have any changes assessed. If you have any concerns about skin changes, or your risk for developing skin cancer, talk to your doctor.1,2
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Want to know more about the different types of skin cancer and how GenesisCare can help?
- Cancer Council. Check for signs of skin cancer [webpage]. Available: https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer [accessed October 2023].
- Cancer Council. Understanding Skin Cancer. December 2021. Available: https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer [accessed October 2023].