It is important to examine your skin on a regular basis for signs of skin cancer and consult an experienced or accredited doctor if you or someone close to you notice anything suspicious. You can view and download free resources courtesy from the American Academy of Dermatology website including the AAD's Body Mole Map to document your self-examination. Simple steps like these can help to identify skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.

Like other cancers, skin cancer will start as precancerous lesions. These precancerous lesions are changes, also called dysplasia, in the skin that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. Some specific dysplastic changes that commonly occur in the skin include: 1) Actinic keratosis - Also known as solar keratosis. Presents with patches of red or brown, scaly, rough skin, which can develop into squamous cell cancer; and 2) Atypical naevi - These are abnormal looking moles, which can potentially develop into malignant melanoma over time. There are 3 major types of skin cancer depending on the type of skin cell from which they arise. Each kind of skin cancer has its own distinctive appearance and tends to develop in specific areas of the body.


Basal cell cancer is the most common type of cancer, and the easiest to treat because it rarely spreads. Basal cell cancer is generally characterized by its red or pearly appearance. It usually occurs on sun-exposed areas of the face or neck. In most cases, the cancerous tissue is removed by either freezing with liquid nitrogen or cutting out the lesion. More>>

This is the second most common type of skin cancer. It is often as easy to treat as basal cell cancer. However, squamous cell cancer is more likely to spread to other areas,  like the liver or skeleton. Squamous cell cancer is characterized by a tender, scaly or ulcerated lump that appears frequently on the face, scalp, neck, forearms and shins. More>>

Malignant melanoma is the most self-examination kind of skin cancer because it may spread quickly from the skin through the lymph nodes or blood, to other organs. If caught early, the prognosis is good. Melanoma usually appears asymmetric, uneven borders, patchy dark coloring's, measure more than 6mm across and evolving over time. More>>

The earlier skin cancers are detected, the easier it is to treat successfully. Both self-examinations and physicians' skin examinations are useful in early detection of all skin cancers. A study in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that self-examinations could reduce the risk of advanced disease among melanoma patients and potentially decrease melanoma mortality by up to 63 percent. Physicians’ skin examinations are likewise effective: The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that melanomas found by physicians tend to be at an earlier stage, and more easily cured than those found by patients themselves.