Pay attention to changes in your skin.
If you have a history of excessive sun exposure, very fair skin, or a family or personal history of skin cancer, check your skin once a month for any changes. If you are in a lower risk category, check your body for possible signs of skin cancer every three months. Enlist the help of a partner or friend to check areas that you can’t readily see, such as your back.
Acral melanoma — a rare type of skin cancer that caused reggae musician Bob Marley's death — is not caused by UV sun damage and most often develops on hairless parts of your skin. So include the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, and nail-beds when you do a self-check.
A self-check involves examining your body in a full-length mirror, along with using a hand mirror to check your neck, scalp, back, and buttocks.
Be on the lookout for a new mole or other growth on your skin. Also check for changes in the appearance of scars (especially those caused by burns). Watch for a patch of skin that becomes darker or changes color and for any sores that don’t heal. Make sure to watch for any spots on your skin that are changing, itching, or bleeding.
If any changes in your skin, including moles that have changed size or color, don’t go away within one month, make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation, advises the NCI.
September 20, 2022
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA and Janet O'Dell, RN