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Detect skin cancer: How to perform a skin self-exam


How to check your skin for skin cancer

Follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists to increase your chances of spotting skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable.

If you notice any new spots on your skin, spots that are different from others, or spots that are changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.

You can detect skin cancer early by following dermatologists’ tips for checking your skin. Download the AAD's body mole map to document your self-examination, or the How to SPOT Skin Cancer™ infographic and know what to look for when checking your spots.

If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

How to perform a skin self-exam

Examine your body in a full-length mirror

Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then look at the right and left sides with your arms raised.

Look at your underarms, forearms, and palms

Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, underarms, and palms.

Look at your legs, between toes, and soles of your feet

Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.

Use a hand mirror to examine your neck and scalp

Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.

Use a hand mirror to check your back and buttocks

Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

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