The importance of early detection of skin cancer cannot be over-emphasized. This is particularly critical with melanoma, the most serious skin cancer. In this regard, regular skin exams by your dermatologist are beneficial. The frequency of evaluations is generally determined by personal and family history of skin cancer, history of irregular (atypical) moles, skin type, amount of sun exposure and history of sunburns. Monthly self skin exams can also pick up early signs of skin cancer. Our patient’s often comment that they have difficulty recognizing the particular features of skin cancer (see www.skincancer.org for photos and descriptions of melanoma and the more common and generally less serious non-melanoma skin cancers.) Here are a few simple tips:
- Regarding moles: If a skin lesion is new or changing, it should be evaluated by your dermatologist.
- Any mole that looks significantly different from your other moles should be evaluated by your dermatologist. This is commonly referred to as the “ugly duckling sign” or “funny looking mole sign.”
- Any skin lesion with bleeding, crusting, scaling, or irritation that doesn’t heal within a couple of weeks should beevaluated by your dermatologist.