The best way to beat any kind of cancer is to prevent it, or at least to get to it really, really early. We’ve done several other episodes about the prevention of skin cancer and fortunately by now, most of you understand the importance of doing an annual complete skin cancer examination by a dermatologist for the early detection of abnormal moles and early skin cancers. But another very important part of that early detection is self examination and self exams for skin are really, really important for several reasons. Your whole skin surface is available to you so you can see everything. Nobody knows their skin like the patient and I find patients are really, really good at detecting early changes. So often people bring me things that have changed and they’re important changes and we get to them really early. These exams should be done once a month and women- hopefully you’re doing breast exams once a month. You can do these exams together and the next time you’re doing these exams, involve and teach your children- get them into the habit of doing them early. So what are you looking for? Very simply, you’re looking for things that have changed. In another episode we said, if something has changed you can give it a week, two weeks, three weeks before you have to show it to the Doctor. But if it hasn’t gone back to normal after two or three weeks then you show it to your Doctor. When it comes to growths, things that are raised above the surface of the skin, any change in size, redness, swelling, change in shape, these are important. With flat, tan or brown moles a change in color, additional colors inside the mole, a change in the border, of course a change in size. Obviously, anything that bleeds and doesn’t stop bleeding after a short period of time, after a couple of days or a week or two, needs to be shown to a Doctor. Pay attention to the texture, if it becomes crusty or scabby that’s another significant change. These are the things you look for. In terms of how you actually do your self examination, I’m going to suggest that you visit SkinCancer.org. At that site, they have a specific diagram to show you all of the steps involved, eight steps to do a complete skin examination and for this you need just a mirror and a pencil and a pad. In addition, at that site, they will show you a body map where you can actually make notes, keep track of any moles, growths or spots that you have. So, it’s very, very important to do self exams and please, do them every month.