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Skin Checks

Skin Cancer Screening

Almost all cases of skin cancer are caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, and there are plenty of precautions that you can take to protect from the dangerous effects of UV rays. For instance, you can always minimize direct exposure to the sun and consistently wear sunscreen. However, detection is just as crucial as protection. You don’t need a blood test or an x-ray to detect skin cancer. Simply pay attention to your skin. Become familiar with your moles, freckles, and blemishes and monitor them for any changes.

By checking your skin regularly, you can:

  • Have a good chance of spotting the early signs of damage before they worsen
  • Know and familiarize yourself with your own skin, helping you identify any changes on your skin
  • Avoid skin cancer, especially if you have a high risk of getting it (i.e. if you have reduced immunity, if you’ve had skin cancer before, or if you have a strong family history of skin cancer)
  • Be thorough, since, skin cancer can manifest on parts of the body that are not exposed to the sun

Skin Cancer Examination

You can easily check your own skin at home in a well-lit room and in front of a full-length mirror. For hard-to-see areas, such as the back of your thighs, you can use a hand-held mirror. For convenience, someone close to you can assist in these exams. If you’d like further assistance, our team in Millburn, NJ is always available to help.

Skin Exam

According to the American Cancer Society website, these are the step-by-step instructions on how to examine your skin:


Face the mirror and check your face, ears, neck, chest, and belly. For women, lift your breasts to examine the skin underneath.


Next, check both sides of your arms and hands, your underarms, in between your fingers, and your fingernails.


Then, take a seat and check the front of your thighs, shins, tops of your feet, in between your toes, and toenails.


Using a hand-held mirror, check the bottoms of your feet, calves, back of your thighs, and your legs.


Also examine the back of your neck and ears, lower and upper back, buttocks, and genital area.


To check your scalp, use a hair dryer or comb to help part your hair.

Skin Cancer Check

To help you examine your moles, it is recommended to follow the ABCDE rules created by the Skin Cancer Foundation:



Asymmetry: Does your mole have an irregular shape? If you draw a line through the middle of a mole, does one side match the other?


Border: Irregular borders in the form of notched or scalloped edges can be a red flag.


Color: Does the mole have a variety of colors? Are there patches of red, blue, or white? Most benign moles have a uniform color.


Diameter: Benign moles typically have a smaller diameter compared to malignant ones. Keep an eye out for spots larger than a pencil eraser (6 mm).


Evolving: Does the spot look the same? Or are there changes in size, shape, color, or elevation? Is it bleeding, itching, or crusting? These could be signs of melanoma.

You may also consider using a body map to help you keep a record of any suspicious spots, so you can show it to your dermatologist during your visit.

What to Expect From a Full-Body Skin Cancer Exam

When you go to your dermatologist for a full body skin cancer screening, expect a 10-15-minute visit that includes a review of your medical history and a head-to-toe skin exam. You will fully undress and put on a gown provided for you. Your dermatologist will then inspect every inch of your body – from your face, chest, back, arms, and legs to less visible areas like your scalp, between your fingers and toes, and the soles of your feet.

Your visit is a good time to bring up any skin irregularities you are worried about, such as any changes in:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Border

During your skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will be looking for the “ABCDEs” of your moles and checking for any possible signs of skin cancer. If any spot looks suspicious, a biopsy will be performed.

During a biopsy, a sample of tissue from the mole will be taken to be evaluated by a pathologist, who will then analyze the sample for cancer cells. If your diagnosis is skin cancer, your doctor will discuss treatment options and the best way to proceed.

When a skin abnormality is discovered, your doctor may send a sample of your skin tissue for a biopsy in order to determine if it is benign or to rule out whether cancerous cells are present. To learn more about annual skin checks, visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Often Should I Have A Skin Check?

A: Dermatologists recommend that you do an at-home skin check once a month, along with an annual full-body skin cancer screening at your doctor’s office. But of course, you should always pay your dermatologist a visit any time you notice an unusual change on your skin. Your dermatologist can also make individual recommendations as to how often you will need a skin exam based on your skin type, family history, and unique risk factors.

Q: How Do I Prepare For A Skin Exam?

A: Remove any makeup or nail polish before your appointment. Your skin exam will be more effective if your dermatologist can have a clear view of your natural skin. Also, wash your hair so it is free of hair products and buildup because your dermatologist will also check your scalp.

Bring your body map or any notes you have taken about any specific areas or spots you are concerned about, so you can easily discuss them with your dermatologist.

Q: Who Is Most At Risk For Skin Cancer?

A: Those with fair skin, lots of freckles, blue, green, or hazel eyes, light-colored hair, have many moles, have a family history of skin cancer, and those who get sunburned before tanning are most at risk.

Q: Can I Die from Skin Cancer?

A: If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. 

Q: What Can I Do To Lower My Risk For Skin Cancer?

A: To prevent the unwanted harmful effects of UV exposure, regularly use broad-spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 30), avoid direct sun exposure especially during peak UV hours (10am-4pm), wear sun protective clothing (marked with a “UPF” rating) or accessories like a wide-brimmed hat, and avoid using tanning beds.

Getting a Skin Cancer Check Can Save Your Life!

If detected early, skin cancer is highly treatable. That’s why our team of board-certified dermatologists at the Millburn Laser Center are encouraging everyone to conduct self-exams at home, as well as regular full-body skin checks with a dermatologist to prevent skin cancer from becoming a life-threatening condition. If you’d like a skin cancer screening or are seeking treatment, you can trust our specialists in Millburn, NJ to take care of you. Contact us at 973-315-8590 today and learn about our personalized care and what we can do for you.

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Millburn, NJ 07041

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Millburn Laser Center

12 East Willow Street

Millburn, NJ 07041

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