A guide to checking your skin for changes 

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK. Most skin cancers can be cured if detected early.

Regularly checking your skin for changes is recommended 

About once a month check your skin for moles or marks that are changing or new. In adults, about 70% of melanoma cases are not associated with existing moles but form as new marks on the skin. Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. The new mark may look like a mole, a flesh coloured bump, a flaky, raised coloured patch or a spot that will not go away. 

Changes to look for 

Any changes can be a concern, but in particular look out for growing size, changing shape, developing new colours, bleeding, pain, crusting, red around the edges or itching. 

Get changes checked by a doctor straight away

Tell your GP about any changes to a mole or patch of skin, or a new mark on adult skin. If your GP is concerned, they can refer you for free through the NHS to a skin cancer specialist, usually a Consultant Dermatologist - an expert in diagnosing skin cancer. 

Examine all of your skin in a well lit room

1. It's best to get someone to help you - they can see the areas you can't. If you can't find someone to help, use a full-size mirror and a handheld mirror to see the back of your body. 

2. First, inspect your face and scalp closely. Use a blow dryer or comb so you can see your scalp. Use the mirrors to see the back of your head and neck if alone. 

3. Next, check both sides of your hands (including fingernails and palms) and forearms before moving up to your elbows and upper arms. 

4. Now check your neck, chest and torso. Ladies - don't forget the underside of your breasts. Lift your arms to check your sides. 

5. With assistance from your helper or your mirrors, examine your back, buttocks and back of your legs. 

6. Finally, sit down and check the rest of your legs and genitals. Lastly, check your feet including your soles. 

Remember to keep an eye on your skin about once a month. Understand what is normal for you so it's easy to spot any changes. 


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