While pre-cancerous growths and skin cancer can usually be successfully treated, the best strategy is to prevent them in the first place.

SkinCancerAwareness.com recommends the following:

  1. Choose your parents wisely as a family history of skin cancer puts you at increased risk for skin cancer. [obviously facetious]
  2. Avoid sunburns; limit your time in direct sunlight especially between 10 AM and 4 PM
  3. Cover up with clothing; wear a broad-rim hat for sun protection
  4. Avoid tanning and never use a tanning bed, tanning booth, or sun lamp. Get a spray tan if you must have a tanned look.
  5. Stay in the shade when outdoors or bring an umbrella/ sunbrella. “Livin’ the Shady Life”
  6. Use a sunscreen preferably with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher about 1-2 hours before you go outside. A higher SPF over 30 can also be used to protect yourself from the sun. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are swimming or have excessive sweating.
  7. Examine your skin once a month when showering. You may need to get a partner to examine areas that you cannot personally see on yourself such as your back, buttocks, back of your neck, back of your scalp, and back of your thighs. A phone camera device may enable you to see some of these areas.
  8. Make regular appointments for a skin examination with a dermatologist or other trained medical professional.

HOW TO DO YOUR OWN SKIN EXAM

While pre-cancerous growths and skin cancer can be successfully treated, the best strategy is to prevent them in the first place. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

  1. Stand in front of a large wall or door Mirror. Starting with your FACE, Examine your face, ears, lips, mouth, frontal scalp, lateral scalp, and neck. A small Hand Mirror is helpful to see some areas better. Your FACE and NECK are the site of most skin cancers.
  2. Next, examine your arms, hands, palms, and fingernails. Skin Cancer commonly occurs on the arms and hands.
  3. Then, examine your chest, abdomen, and underarms.
  4. Next, look at your upper legs, thighs, feet, and soles of your feet.
  5. Use a small Hand Mirror to examine your groin and rectal area.
  6. Last, use the Large Mirror and Hand Mirror, and try to examine areas that most people are unable to examine themselves. Check the top and back of your scalp, the back of your neck, your upper and lower back, buttocks, and back of your thighs. You may have an friend or partner look at these areas or photograph them for you. If there is any question, see your dermatologist or medical professional.