Information on Free Skin Cancer Screenings

And How to Perform a Self Exam

Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer? Being sun smart and checking your skin once a month for suspicious moles or spots is one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and cancer-free.

Woman getting her skin checked
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At least once a year, a person should have a clinical skin exam, either by their usual provider or by a dermatologist. A clinical skin exam is a visual exam of the skin done by a trained healthcare professional. While this isn't a problem for those with excellent health insurance plans, there are many people who do not have health insurance or whose insurance won't cover such a visit.

How and Where to Get a Free Screening

Through the American Academy of Dermatology's National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Screening program, volunteer doctors perform skin cancer screenings at no cost. You can find when and where free screenings are held by visiting the Academy's website.

How to Properly Perform a Self-Examination 

Some such skin cancer screening is covered by health insurers. However, if you do not have health insurance, or cannot afford a trip to the doctor for a clinical skin exam, there are still ways to protect against skin cancer by performing self-examinations. You can perform a self-exam at any point in time and it is quick and free! Plus, you are likely to be more familiar with your own skin than anyone else, thus it will be easier for you to spot potential issues.

When performing a self-exam, be sure to check every area of your body, including areas that you may not normally be able to see. You may need mirrors in order to properly check every area. Check your arms, hands, legs, and feet, as well as your chest. The mirror may be necessary to see your back completely. You may also need a comb to check underneath your hair.

There are several things to look for when checking your own skin for potential signs of cancer. Typically, you are looking for any changes that occur over time to marks on your skin. In order to do this, you should become familiar with moles and marks on your skin, in order to recognize changes.

Specific warning signs include new red, or dark-colored patches on the skin, new firm flesh-colored bumps, bleeding sores that do not heal on their own after a couple of weeks, as well as changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole. Warning signs on a mole may include a mole that is painful or itchy, larger than 6 millimeters across, strangely shaped, or multi-colored.

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  1. American Cancer Society. How to do a skin self-exam.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Detect skin cancer: How to perform a skin self-exam.