Non-melanoma skin cancer

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Checking your skin

You should check your skin regularly for changes. This will help you know what is normal for your own body and recognize when something may be wrong. Tell your doctor if you see any changes in your skin.

How to check your skin

Check your skin in a well-lit room. Use a mirror so you can look closely at your entire body.

Raise your arms and look at the right and left sides of your body in the mirror. Check your underarm areas and both sides of your arms. Look at your hands, each finger, between your fingers and your fingernails.

Look at the back, front and sides of your legs. Look at the tops and soles of your feet, your toenails and the spaces between your toes. Also check your genital area and between your buttocks.

Look at your face, neck, back of your neck and your scalp. Use a hand mirror and full-length mirror, along with a comb, to check your scalp.

Have someone you trust help you check hard-to-see areas.

What to look for

Look for and note any new growth on your skin. These include:

  • pale, pearly nodules (lumps) that may grow larger and crust
  • red or pink patches that are scaly and don’t heal
  • new skin markings such as moles, blemishes, discoloration or bumps
  • changes in the shape, colour, size or texture of a birthmark or mole
  • a sore that doesn’t heal
  • an abnormal area that bleeds, oozes, swells, itches or is red and bumpy

Healthcare professionals look for specific features when they do a skin exam to look for a precancerous condition or skin cancer. Their exam is based on the ABCDE rule and the 7-point checklist. Find out more about skin exam.

What to do if you find a change in your skin

Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any changes in your skin. Your doctor may order a biopsy to check any suspicious area.


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