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Protect the skin you're in. May is skin cancer awareness month.

May is skin cancer awareness month. More than 4 million people are living with skin cancer every year in the U.S. Skin cancer awareness is important because there are things you can do to prevent or lower your risk. You can also get checked for skin cancer to help catch any potential issues early.



Basal Cell or Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Nonmelanoma cancer occurs in squamous and basal cells in the outer layer of your skin (epidermis).

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated early.

They are the most common types of skin cancer.

Develops in cells that make the skin pigment, melanin.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer can be treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or chemical peels, among other treatments.

Can develop anywhere on the body, including on your scalp and under your nails. It can also develop in your eyes or intestines.

​Risk factors for non-melanoma include:

  • Long term exposure to the sun's UV rays

  • Fair skin or skin that freckles or burns easily

  • Actinic keratosis (precancerous skin patches that develop after sun damage)

  • Radiation exposure from cancer treatment

  • Medications or health conditions that suppress the immune system.

Risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Long term exposure to the sun's UV rays

  • Having fair or light skin or hair

  • Getting sunburns with blisters as a child or teenager

  • Having several large or many small moles

  • Having a family history of moles or melanoma

How to Screen

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you perform head to toe skin checks on yourself once a month. For a self-exam to screen for skin cancer, you'll check your skin to look for:

  • Changes in the size, shape, or color of an existing mole or spot

  • Moles or other skin spots that ooze, bleed, or become scaly or crusty

  • Moles that are painful to the touch

  • Sores that haven't healed within two weeks

  • Shiny pink, red, pearly white, or translucent bumps

  • The "ABCDEs" of melanoma, which stands for:

    • Asymmetry: Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?

    • Border: Is the border of the mole ragged or irregular?

    • Color: Is the color uneven?

    • Diameter: Is the mole or spot bigger than the size of a pea or a pencil eraser?

    • Evolving: Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

To do a head-to-toe self-exam:

  • Choose a well-lit room with a full-length mirror. You'll also need a hand-held mirror.

  • Check you scalp. Part your hair and look with a hand mirror. Check the back of your neck, too.

  • Look at your face, ears, and front of your neck.

  • Look at the front of your chest and belly. Lift breasts to check the skin underneath.

  • Raise your arms and check the skin on your left and right sides, including your underarms.

  • Look at the front and back of your arms.

  • Check your hands, including between your fingers and fingernails (without nail polish).

  • Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

  • Sit down to check the front and sides of your legs and use the hand mirror to check the backs of your legs and your genitals.

  • Check your feet, including the bottoms, the spaces between your toes, and the nail of each toe (without nail polish).

The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommendations that you get screened once a year by a dermatologist, more often If you’re at higher risk for skin cancer (see above risk factors). During a screening, your doctor will do a full body scan and check for unusual spots or suspicious moles. If he/she sees anything troubling, he/she may do a biopsy by removing the spot and sending it to a lab to test for cancer cells.

What is Whole Body Photography?

In individuals with numerous pigmented lesions, detecting new lesions or suspicious change in existing lesions by periodic clinical examination alone can be very difficult. A photographic baseline allows your physician to determine if a particular pigmented lesion is unchanged from the time the baseline images were taken, if the lesion is new, or if it is a preexisting lesion that has changed in appearance from the baseline image. Baseline total-body photographs help detect melanoma and dysplastic nevi very early, and minimizes the unnecessary excision of benign moles.

Whole Body Photography is a well-established tool for managing patients at risk for melanoma. Body mapping provides an easy, reliable means of accurately comparing and tracking lesions, and conducting total body skin exams.

Cardona DPC + RefineMD can perform total body digital photography using the SkinIO program. The initial full-body photo session documents a baseline record. Each imaging session thereafter creates instant mole-mapping to help accurately detect and track moles as well as potential outliers. SkinIO flags changes over time for review by checking your digital skin health record.

Current members can schedule a SkinIO screening session through the patient portal or call the office to schedule that appointment. If you are not a current member but would like more information on how to become one, visit our website or call the office.

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