Melanoma & Skin Cancer: How To Get Screened
08 May 2023
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Screening is crucial to detecting skin cancer at an earlier stage. If skin cancer is diagnosed early, it may be easier to treat.
Screening for skin cancer may involve an examination by both a healthcare provider and a self-exam. A visual self-exam is important to check your skin for new or unusual skin spots and moles regularly each month. This will help you find any suspicious changes. Be sure to check less visible areas of your skin like the soles of your feet. If you are performing a self-exam, it is important to think of the ABCDE’s when evaluating spots or moles.
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole is not the same size or shape as the other.
- Border: Borders are uneven, or poorly defined.
- Color: The mole has multiple shades of color
- Diameter: The mole is 6mm or greater (~ size of a pencil eraser).
- Evolving: The size, shape, color or elevation changes.
If you notice anything new or changing in your skin, talk to your doctor to get it checked.
It is recommended that you get a full-body, professional skin exam by a healthcare provider each year. During a skin exam a doctor or nurse checks the skin for moles, birthmarks or other pigmented areas that look abnormal in color, size, shape or texture. If an area on the skin looks suspicious, a doctor may conduct a biopsy. This usually means removing part or all of the lesion and sending it to a lab to check for cancer cells.
Skin cancer often goes unnoticed until it is too late. Remember to check your skin regularly and get screened by a healthcare provider especially if you are at risk of developing skin cancer. Early detection saves lives.
Sources: The Skin Cancer Foundation, NIH National Cancer Institute
National Minority Quality Forum is a research and educational organization dedicated to ensuring that high-risk racial and ethnic populations and communities receive optimal health care. This nonprofit, nonpartisan organization integrates data and expertise in support of initiatives to eliminate health disparities.