Is it skin cancer?

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With summer just around the corner, you might be thinking about what sunscreen you need to buy for that BBQ, pool party or outdoor sporting event coming up (or at least all of us Southern Californians are). As that’s a great way to protect yourself from skin cancer, there are a few more things to be aware of if you spot a funky-looking spot on your skin. So I asked our friend, Dr. Lee Laris of the Phoenix Skin Medical Surgical Group, to give us some tips on self-diagnosis:

Common Mistakes In Self-Diagnosing Skin Cancer by Dr. Lee Laris

There are many tasks where it’s best to do them yourself. For example, a simple home improvement project can be done on your own and save you a lot of money — if you have the right tools and know-how. Other tasks, however, need a second opinion because they require a lot of specialized knowledge. When it comes to your health, it’s important to know what kinds of warning signs you should look for and when to have those warning signs checked by a doctor. This is especially true when you suspect you may have skin cancer, which is one of the most common forms of cancer. Although self-examination is an important weapon in the fight against skin cancer, it’s important to know what to look for and when you should see a doctor.

When it comes to checking yourself for signs of skin cancer, the single biggest mistake you can make is waiting too long to see a doctor when something appears to be unusual. Any spots, bumps, rashes or scratches that are still lingering after six weeks should be looked at by a doctor for further evaluation. Failing to do so could mean a cancer diagnosis will come too late for you.

Other common mistakes many people make when checking themselves for signs of skin cancer revolve around not understanding what they’re looking for on their skin. For example, many people become worried upon finding skin tags or moles on their skin, but a lot of these raised lesions are harmless and no cause for alarm. For raised lesions to be troublesome, they have to display some of the characteristics of skin cancer — such as being asymmetrical, having irregular borders, or being larger than a pencil eraser in diameter. It’s important for anyone concerned about whether or not he or she may have skin cancer to understand which characteristics to be concerned about and which ones signal a benign growth.

Lastly, another common mistake people make is assuming that only areas of the skin that receive constant exposure to the sun are at risk for skin cancer. The truth is that skin cancer can strike anywhere on your body — including areas such as your scalp and groin that aren’t exposed to the sun nearly as often as your face, shoulders or arms.

Self-examination is a crucial tool to help prevent and treat skin cancer, but it can’t work if you don’t know what to do and what to look for on your skin. If you’re concerned about checking yourself for signs of skin cancer, the following guide should contain all the information you need.


Author bio: Dr. Lee Laris of the Phoenix Skin Medical Surgical Group is highly trained in all areas of medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology — and has built a national reputation as a facial rejuvenation specialist. Dr. Laris is recognized for his use of minimal incision surgery, with a focus on restoring youth via less invasive methods. Dr. Laris is one of the first certified hair transplant surgeons by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery.

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