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Have you checked your skin for cancer lately?

by , 23 September 2013

With the weather warming up, you're spending more time outside enjoying the sun. But that carries its own risks: One of which is skin cancer. So it's no wonder that cancer associations around the globe are encouraging us to pay more attention to our skins and do frequent skin cancer checks. Here's how…

After Australia, South Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world! That’s pretty scary when you think over 15,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year.

And that means it’s become more important than ever to conduct regular self-exams. After all, writes skincancer.org, if you can spot it, you can stop it.

Here’s how to perform skin cancer self-exam

The first thing you need to do is learn where your birthmarks, moles and other marks are and their usual look and feel, explains the National Cancer Institute. (Download this mole map from the American Academy of Dermatology to help you keep track of this.)

Then, after you’ve stepped out of the shower or bath, stand in front of a full-length mirror in a room with good light and check your skin for:

  • A new mole (that looks different from your other moles)
  • A new red or darker colour flaky patch on an existing blemish that may be a little raised
  • A new flesh-coloured firm bump
  • A change in the size, shape, colour or feel of a mole you know you have
  • A sore that doesn't heal

If you find anything unusual, see your doctor and get it checked out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

And remember, not only is skin cancer the easiest to cure, if diagnosed and treated early, it’s also the easiest form of cancer to cure. And that means you must find the time to perform regular self-exams on your body.

But how often is enough?

The Wall Street Journal says “cancer groups are stepping up efforts to screen patients at least once a year and teach them to perform their own self-exams as often as monthly.” And since it only takes a few minutes to do, we agree.

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