Posted by Chelsea Harris & filed under .

The first line of defense against skin cancer starts with you. Ask a dermatologist how often you should examine your skin for signs of skin cancer and consult a dermatologist if you notice anything suspicious. These simple steps can help ensure that skin cancer is diagnosed in its earliest, most treatable stage. Below you will find information about how to examine your skin and what signs to look for.

How do I perform a Self Exam?

You can catch skin cancer early by following dermatologists’ tips for checking your skin. Download the AAD’s body mole map to document your self-examination and know what to look for when checking your spots.

Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then look at the right and left sides with your arms raised.

Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper underarms and palms.

Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.

Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.

Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

What do I look for?

A = Asymmetry
One half is unlike the other half.

B = Border
An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.

C = Color
Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.

D = Diameter
Melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.

E = Evolving
A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.