Healthy Living
Preventing Skin Cancer

Released: 07/1/2015

Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma can spread quickly. WhenWESTMED Girl in Shades melanoma spreads, it can be deadly. 


“If you notice a mole that differs from others or one that changes, bleeds, or itches, see a dermatologist as soon as possible,” says Dr. Saryna Young, WESTMED dermatologist at 210 Westchester Avenue.


Performing regular skin self-examinations is an easy way to detect suspicious moles that could be cancerous. Asking a partner to assist you by looking at hard-to-reach areas to monitor changes in your skin can improve the early detection of skin cancer.


Skin Self-Exams: “You can be the first line of defense against skin cancer,” said Dr. Young.  Checking your skin means taking note of all the spots on your body, from moles to freckles to age spots. 


How to Check for Moles: To help detect the warning signs of skin cancer, especially melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer), the Academy of Dermatology makes this recommendation -


Check your skin for the following characteristics:


  • Asymmetry - one half unlike the other half
  • Border - irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
  • Color - varies from one area to another, has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red or blue 
  • Diametery - the size of a pencil eraser or larger 
  • Evolvingy - a mole or lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color 

    How to Perform a Skin Self-Exam

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

      Can Melanoma Be Cured? Dr. Young says, “When detected in its earliest stages, melanoma is highly curable.” The average five-year survival rate for individuals whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent.