How to check your skin for skin cancer

Early detection and removal of skin cancers is still the best cure we have. So, get to know your skin and what’s normal for you.

It’s easier than you think to check your skin for irregular spots or areas. All you’ll need is a mirror, good light, someone to help you and ideally a camera or a smartphone.

You should aim to do this self-check once every three months. Schedule it into your diary. Once you’ve done it a few times, it’ll only take you a minute. You may follow your self-checks with a yearly full and detailed skin examination – utilising dermoscopy by a skin cancer doctor. In all, it could take as little as twenty minutes a year to monitor your skin. Well worth it.

Use the S.C.A.N.* list to check your skin at home and if it’s:

Your step-by-step guide

Using a mirror and hairdryer or comb, examine your scalp. Then the fronts of your ears.
Ask a partner to examine the back of your scalp and behind your ears.
Check your face, including inside your mouth, lips and folds around the nose.
Examine your chest and abdomen – including under the breasts and skin folds.
Ask your partner to examine your back or take a photo of it for you to review.
Check the backs and fronts of both forearms, upper arms and armpits.
Examine your hands and don’t forget palms, web spaces and under fingernails.
Buttocks and backs of thighs can be checked with a mirror. A photograph of the area is even easier.
Check the groin area and genitalia.
Check the fronts of your thighs.
Check the fronts and backs of both calves.
Sit down and examine your feet – the tops, soles, between the toes and under toenails.

* The Skin Cancer College Australasia recommends that you ‘SCAN Your Skin’.