Updated: Oct 16, 2022
It’s easier than you think, and it could save your life.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. About 20% of the population, or 1 in 5 people, will be diagnosed with the disease by age 70, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Here’s a more comforting statistic: 99% percent of all skin cancers are curable if they are diagnosed and treated early enough. That’s the key, early detection.
Left untreated, skin cancer can be deadly. Statistically, more than two people in the United States die every hour from skin cancer. Having as few as five sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk for developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Even patients who survive the disease may be disfigured by the medically necessary removal of cancerous skin.
There is good news. Unlike many other forms of disease, skin cancer is a condition that’s readily visible. You can learn the signs and conduct a basic skin cancer exam at home, following up with a dermatologist whenever you have concerns.
Early detection can save your life. Once you know what to watch for, check your body at least once a month and talk to your dermatologist if you see anything suspicious, have a family history of cancers or if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
To begin, look over your body, using a mirror to examine your back and other areas that may be harder to see (or recruit a partner or spouse to help you). Make a note of any moles, freckles and spots. This will help you notice any changes that occur over time.