We can all learn from Mr. Hogan’s example.  Protecting our skin from the sun, especially as a child and teenager, is key to reducing our risk. Sunscreen, sun-protective clothing and hats, and avoiding sunbathing and tanning bed use are very helpful.

Fortunately, Mr. Hogan’s skin cancers do not pose a threat to his health in general because they were not melanomas, and the minor procedures will not slow him down.  That’s because they were discovered in the early stages by his dermatologist.  People often notice their skin cancers on their own, as well.  Not all skin cancers are sun-related, so it’s important to be aware of what is on one’s skin.

Here are a few suggestions for recognizing skin cancer, which can look like a:

  • Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others
  • Dome-shaped growth
  • Scaly patch
  • Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns
  • Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns
  • Brown or black streak under a nail

To sum it up: it’s time to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that:

  • Differs from the others
  • Changes
  • Itches
  • Bleeds

The American Academy of Dermatology’s website, www.aad.org is a great source of additional information.  Skin cancer is actually one of the easiest cancers to find.  That’s because skin cancer usually begins where you can see it.  You can get skin cancer anywhere on your skin — from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet.  Even if the area gets little sun, it’s possible for skin cancer to develop there.  You can also get skin cancer in places that may surprise you.  Skin cancer can begin under a toenail or fingernail, on your genitals, inside your mouth, or on a lip.

You can find skin cancer on your body

The best way to find skin cancer is to examine yourself.  When checking, you want to look at the spots on your skin.  And you want to check everywhere — from your scalp (parting your hair to check your entire scalp) to the spaces between your toes and the bottoms of your feet.

If possible, having a partner can be helpful.  Your partner can examine hard-to-see areas like your scalp and back.

Getting in the habit of checking your skin will help you notice changes.  Checking monthly can be beneficial. If you have had skin cancer, your dermatologist can tell you how often you should check your skin.

What skin cancer looks like

To make it easy for you to check your skin, the AAD created the Body Mole Map. You’ll find everything you need to know on a single page. Illustrations show you how to examine your skin and what to look for. There’s even a place to record what your spots look like. You’ll find this page, which you can print, at:

Body mole map

You can feel well and still have skin cancer

Most people who find a suspicious spot on their skin or streak beneath a nail feel fine.  They don’t have any pain.  They don’t feel ill.  The only difference they notice is the suspicious-looking spot. That spot doesn’t have to itch, bleed, or feel painful. Although, skin cancer sometimes does.

See a suspicious spot, see a dermatologist

If you find a spot on your skin that could be skin cancer, it’s time to see a dermatologist.  Found early, skin cancer is highly treatable. Often a dermatologist can treat early skin cancer by removing cancer and a bit of normal-looking skin.

Given time to grow, treatment for skin cancer becomes more difficult.