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Spot it, stop it! Self-screening for skin cancer

Nov. 21, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Cybill Shepherd, Troy Aikman and Bob Marley? Melanoma. (The most dangerous skin cancer.) Elizabeth Taylor and President Bill Clinton? Basal cell skin cancer. Laura Bush? Squamous cell carcinoma. Young, old, dark-skinned or pale -- anyone can get these forms of skin cancer. That's why you should do an annual spot check (literally, you're looking for spots that are suspicious). And if you can enlist a partner to explore every nook and cranny of your skin, even better.

You or your partner should take a good look at your back, butt, between your toes, the soles of your feet, the back of your arms, legs, neck and scalp. Plus the easier-to-see face, throat, torso and front of your arms and legs. (If you're doing a self-exam, you'll need a full-length mirror and a hand mirror.)

You're looking for a spot with any of these suspicious characteristics:

Asymmetry -- Each half of a spot looks very different;

Borders -- They're irregular or not clearly defined;

Colors -- Vary within the spot. It may be partially tan, brown or black, or have areas of white, red or even blue;

Diameters -- Spots larger than the end of a pencil eraser.

If you have ANY question about a spot, see a dermatologist. And to help make sure you don't ever find one, when outside, wear zinc oxide sunscreen with an SPF of 30 year-round, and never ever use a tanning bed.

So shed the threads and spread your limbs. No reason you can't have fun doing this!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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