Self Test For Deadly Skin Cancer

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Dermatologists recommend a simple monthly self-examination to look for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer often caused from too much unprotected exposure to the sun. Physicians urge middle-aged and older men in particular to undergo testing, because that group is the least likely to perform the simple self-tests or to visit a dermatologist regularly.

Melanoma is marked by the uncontrolled growth of pigment -producing cells and may develop from or near a mole. The blotches are most often found on the upper backs of men and women or on the calves of women, but can occur anywhere on the body. The disease is highly treatable if caught early, before it spreads.

The "ABCD" self-test includes looking over the entire body, especially the back, scalp, soles of the feet and palms of the hand. "A" stands for asymmetry, when one-half of a mole does not match the other half. "B" is for border irregularity, meaning that the mole's edges are ragged, notched or blurred. "C" is for color, meaning that the mole's color is not uniform and may include shades of tan, black, red, white or blue. "D" is for diameter -- a mole larger than the size of a pencil eraser, or six millimeters, should be of concern. Melanoma is most curable when it is detected early, so practice those ABCDs.

A free skin cancerscreening from the American Academy of Dermatology may be available by calling toll-free at 1-888-462-3376 or visit