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Sep 2021

Holiday City at Berkeley EMS - Self Exam for Skin Cancer

You know it’s worth giving your skin a regular look-over for anything new or suspicious. But if your scanning process tends to be a quick once-over, it’s time to get a little more serious. Regular self-skin exams are important in catching potential skin cancers early, when they’re easier to treat. They’re not a substitute for seeing your dermatologist once a year. If you do see something, you can have it checked.
How often should you be checking? Once a month is a great goal, but committing to any kind of regular interval is still worth it. At least try for a quarterly basis. Once you’vet got your frequency figured out, here’s how to do a self-exam.
1. Set up your exam space. You don’t need much in the way of equipment, but a full-length mirror is a must. Have a hand-held mirror to view hard-to-see-spots like your shoulder blades or the back of your thighs. Make sure the room has good lighting, so you can really see your skin clearly. Since you'll be in your birthday suit, you probably can’t count on standing next to a bright window.
2. Start scanning. Your goal is to get a look at every patch of skin from head to toe, including those areas that don’t typically see the light of day. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but sticking with a specific order can help you remember to hit every area.
  • Start with your head and neck. Using the hand mirror, get a 360 view of your neck, ears, and shoulders. Try to get a close look around your hairline and as much of your scalp as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do a thorough examination of every single spot. Perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of good here.
  • Look up and down the front and back of your body. Check less-visible areas like under your breasts. Use the hand-mirror to look at your butt and the backs of your thighs and calves too. The back of the thigh is one of the most common locations for melanomas in women.
  • Look at your left and right sides. Raise your arms to get a full view. Don’t forget your armpits and the backs of your forearms.
  • Look at your hands and feet. Skin cancers can go unnoticed on the palms of your hands or feet, in between fingers and toes, or even under finger or toenails.
3. Note anything unusual—and get some documentation. You want to watch for anything that’s seems new or different. Red flags include:
  • A mole with an asymmetrical shape, a jagged or irregular border, an uneven color, or diameter often marks melanoma larger than a pea, or one that seems to be changing.
  • Any new growth that doesn’t go away. 
  • After 40 you rarely get new moles. Keep your eyes peeled for wart- or pimple-like growths that seem like they’re sticking around for more than a month.
  • Any irritated growth or sore that isn't healing. Spots that hurt, bleed, or feel scaly or crusty aren't normal.
  • Anything you’re unsure about. 
  • Snap a picture of anything questionable while you’re self-checking.
There is no free EMS without volunteers. “Be a hero.”  Join your EMS squad for a year or 2, maybe 5. No experience necessary! You’ll be CPR certified, and trained on the ambulance and at the squad. 100 Port Royale Dr. in Holiday City Berkley. 732 240-3933
Don’t forget to recycle newspapers and magazines, phone books and aluminum cans at the recycling center behind HCBEMS building.
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