Skin Cancer Self-Examination Guide

Skin cancer can be cured if it is detected early enough.  Although it's recommended that you attend your local health clinic regularly for health checks, you should also carry out self-examination on a monthly basis, especially if you work outdoors or spend a lot of time outside during the summer months.

So, how do you carry out self-examination and what warning signs should you be looking out for?  Read on for a helpful guide.

What you'll need for your self-examination

  • a brightly lit space
  • a full-length mirror
  • a hand mirror
  • two chairs
  • a hair dryer
  • a pencil
  • body maps

How do carry out self-examination

During the examination, you're looking for any unusual moles or marks on your skin that you've not notice before or any which have changed in shape or colour.

  1. Your face is the part of your body that is most likely to suffer from extensive sun damage, as it is exposed more often and for longer periods than any other area of your body.  Look closely at your face, including your nose, your lips, your mouth, and your ears.  You'll need to use the hand mirror to check behind your ears.  
  2. Moles on your scalp can easily go unnoticed beneath your hair.  Take a hairdryer and use it to blow your hair out of the way so that you can see all areas on your scalp.  It's helpful if you can recruit someone to help you with this.  
  3. Check your neck, including the back.  Use your hand mirror for this part of your examination.  
  4. Next, check over your hands.  Look over both sides of your hands, including between your fingers and under your nails.  
  5. Now look at your arms, including both sides and your armpits.  You can use the full-length mirror to do this.  
  6. Move down to your chest and tummy.  Ladies should carefully lift their breasts so that the underside is clearly visible.  
  7.  Now examine your back in the full-length mirror.  Once again, use your hand mirror so that you can see your shoulders too.  
  8. Again using both mirrors, look over your buttocks and the back of your legs.   
  9. Now sit down on one chair and prop one leg up on the other.  Check your genitals and the whole of each leg, from top to bottom.  Don't forget to examine the soles of your feet, between your toes and underneath your toenails.  Remember to look at the soles of your feet and at the back of your heels.  You will need to use your hand mirror for this part of the examination.

In conclusion

You should attend your local health clinic for regular skin cancer checks; however you can carry out your own self-examination in between visits by following the guidelines given above.  If you spot anything suspicious, always seek medical advice without delay.