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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Skin Cancer Check (Part 1)

Look for moles, red patches and spots you might mistake for bug bites or pimples that don't go away for 2 weeks. To be sure you don't miss a spot, do this check:
  • Face a full-length mirror and check your face, ears, neck, chest, stomach and underneath breasts.
  • Examine your underarms, both sides of your arms and hands, and fingernails.
  • Check the front of your thighs, shins, feet and toenail beds.
  • Look at the bottom of your feet and calves and the back of your thighs.
  • Grab a hand mirror and examine the back of your neck and scalp, and, finally, your back, butt and genitals.
  • Use a comb or hair dryer to part your hair so you can check your scalp.

You found an iffy spot-now what? See your derm, not your primary care doctor. Non-dermatologists may be more likely to misdiagnose an atypical-looking spot. Ask your doctor to use a dermascope-a special microscope that can "see" into a mole to help determine if it's cancerous. It cuts down on unnecessary biopsies and reduces the risk that your doctor will miss anything. And if your derm says a mole looks fine but you're still uneasy, get a second opinion.