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November 2017
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Skin Cancer Prevention NJ – Periodic Skin Self-Examination

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.  Each year more than one million new cases of

Malignant melanoma: asymmetry, border irregularity, color irregularity, diameter laser than eraser of pencil.
Malignant Melanoma

non-melanoma skin cancer and more than 68,000 new cases of malignant melanoma are diagnosed in the United States.

While it is true that people with fair skin, light colored hair and light colored eyes are most susceptible to skin cancer, it is important to recognize that skin cancer occurs in all skin types and all ethnic groups.  Jamaica’s beloved singer, musician and activist, Bob Marley, died from a malignant melanoma on his toe.

Prevention of melanoma and skin cancer in general is the best weapon against these diseases.  Practice sun avoidance, particularly between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm and use a broad spectrum sunscreen every morning.  If swimming or sweating reapply the sunscreen often.

If a melanoma should develop, early detection and treatment lead to a cure in most cases.  When found late, the survival rates for melanoma patients are very low.

The National Cancer Institute and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend performing a skin self-examination once a month to help in early detection of skin cancer.

Studies have shown that melanomas that were detected by a regular skin self examination were thinner than those found by doctors.  Finding a melanoma when it is thinner results in a better prognosis with this deadly disease.

Another factor that correlated strongly with early detection of malignant melanoma is having a picture of what melanoma looks like.

When you are performing the skin self-examination, look for:

  • New skin lesions or marks
  • Lesions that have changed in size, texture, color, or shape
  • Lesions that bleed or won’t heal
  • Moles with irregular borders or colors and/or lack of symmetry
  • Any mole or growth that appears very different from other skin growths

The following is a method of self-examination that will ensure that all areas of the body are looked at.  To perform your self-examination you will need a full length mirror, a hand mirror and a brightly-lit room.

How to perform a monthly skin self-examination

From the American Academy of Dermatology:  How to Examine Your Skin






For more information, please visit these Advanced Skin Wisdom pages:

Skin Cancer

Precancerous Skin Conditions

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Malignant Melanoma

Here is a Mole Body Map from the American Academy of Dermatology to assist you with your skin self-examination.


Recording the skin lesions, including their shape, border, color, diameter, and change helps keep track and detect dangerous skin lesions earlier.  Should a lesion change, bring it to your dermatologist’s attention immediately.

The AAD Body Mole Map and more information on malignant melanoma can be found at:

AAD Melanoma: Tips for Finding and Preventing

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