Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Most types of skin cancers are preventable, and when skin cancer occurs, cure rates are high if it is diagnosed and treated early. If allowed to progress, though, skin cancer can result in disfigurement and even death. This is why regularly examining your skin (for example, once a month) is essential, especially because a skin cancer lesion often won't hurt or feel uncomfortable, so it's easy to overlook. It is also important to have your skin examined by your doctor at least once a year, especially if you are over the age of 40.

How to conduct a monthly skin self-exam:

  • Start with the head and end with the feet.
  • Look at the scalp, the face, the neck, beneath facial hair, on the trunk, the armpits, the hands, the finger webs, the toe webs, the nail beds, and the soles of the feet.
  • Use a mirror to examine your back and the skin between the buttocks.

It is important that you see your doctor as soon as possible if you notice a mole, birthmark, beauty mark, spot, or sore that:

  • has irregularly shaped outline
  • changes colour or is dark black in colour
  • increases in size or thickness or shape
  • changes in texture
  • is bigger than 6 mm (about ¼ inch)
  • bleeds
  • itches or hurts
  • crusts or scabs
  • ulcerates or bleeds
  • fails to heal within 3 weeks, leading to ulceration, scabbing, or bleeding
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team