Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer and when caught early enough, 99% of all cases are curable. The strongest defense against developing skin cancer is in creating healthy, daily habits like proper sun protection, monthly self-checks, and annual skin exams with your provider. When you consistently incorporate these habits into your lifestyle, you are protecting yourself from dangerous exposure, and should you notice anything new, suspicious, or changing, you’ll be able to get it checked by your provider sooner.

how to perform a self check

How to Perform a Skin Cancer Self-Check

1. Examine your face

Especially your nose, lips, mouth and ears — front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.

2. Inspect your scalp

Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.

3. Check your hands

Palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both the front and back of your forearms.

4. Scan your arms

Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don’t forget the underarms.

5. Inspect your torso

Next, focus on the neck, chest and torso. Lift the breasts to view the undersides.

6. Scan your upper back

With your back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4.

7. Scan your lower back

Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks and backs of both legs.

8. Inspect your legs

Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check the front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin. Then, finish with ankles and feet, including soles, toes and nails (without polish).


++ While this should not replace your annual skin exam with your physician, it does offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer.  See your dermatologist every year for a professional skin exam. Early detection is vital when it comes to diagnosing and treating skin cancer. Schedule an appointment with us today!