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Screening for Melanoma

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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions

Skin Self-exam —A visual check of your skin from head to toe. Tips for performing a skin self-exam include:

  • Use a full-length mirror or hand-held mirror to check hard to spot places, such as between the buttocks or in the genital area.
  • Do the exam in a well-lit room.
  • Turn from front to back and left to right.
  • Note the size, shape, color, and texture of all skin blemishes and moles.
  • Check your fingernails, palms, and forearms.
  • Check your feet, toenails, soles, and between the toes.
  • Examine your scalp, separating the hair with a comb or a blow dryer.

Skin Exam by a Physician —If you have any increased risk for developing melanoma, an annual skin examination by a dermatologist may be appropriate. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist should also check the back of your eyes for possible melanomas as part of your routine examination.

The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society recommend that you perform monthly skin self-exams, especially if you have many moles. If you notice any changes, contact your healthcare provider.

Revision Information

  • Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 3, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.

  • Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003120-pdf.pdf . Updated January 17, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.

  • Skin cancer screening. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/screening/skin/HealthProfessional . Updated March 1, 2013. Accessed April 8, 2013.