Check Your Skin

Skin Care West

Check Your Skin

Check your skin!

These are busy times in our health care system and sometimes the importance of “skin health” just seems to get “covered up”.

When it comes to skin cancer, it is your responsibility to advocate for your own skin.

What can I do as a patient to check for skin cancer?

  • Perform your own skin check
  • Family members – watch your backs
  • See your family doctor for a skin check
  • See your dermatologist for a skin check

Perform your own skin check

Five steps to skin cancer self-exam, from the Canadian Dermatology Association:

  • Using a mirror in a well lit room, check the front of your body- face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs and lower legs.
  • Turn sideways, raise your arms and look carefully at the right and left sides of your body, including the underarm area.
  • With a hand-held mirror, check your upper back, neck and scalp. Next, examine your lower back, buttocks, backs of thighs and calves.
  • Examine your forearms, palms, back of the hands, fingernails and in between each finger.
  • Finally, check your feet-the tops, soles, toenails, toes and spaces in between.

Family members – watch your backs!

Check each other… sometimes it is helpful to have someone else to also check your back besides just using a mirror.

See your family doctor for a skin check

  • Make an appointment with your doctor for just your skin. Save other medical problems for another visit.
  • If you have specific spots on your skin about which you (or someone else) is concerned, consider circling the worrisome spots with a pen prior to your appointment!
  • Don’t wear any make-up.
  • During your appointment, your doctor needs to check your entire skin so be prepared to strip down to your underwear.

Get an annual skin check if:

  • You have a history of any type of skin cancer or a condition called actinic keratosis (aka solar keratosis)
  • You have had a blistering sunburn in your childhood
  • You have lots of moles, especially ones that are large or irregular
  • You have had lots of sun exposure in your life
  • You have a first degree relatives who has had melanoma
  • You have other reasons to be worried about skin cancer

See your dermatologist for a skin check

  • Your family doctor may request that you see a dermatologist for a skin check if your doctor believes that you have skin cancer or are at risk for skin cancer.
  • You require a referral from your family doctor to see the doctors at Skin Care West.
  • If you have specific spots on your skin about which you (or someone else) are concerned, consider circling the worrisome spots with a pen prior to your appointment!
  • Don’t wear any make-up.
  • During your appointment, your doctor needs to check your entire skin so be prepared to strip down to your underwear.
  • In many cases, skin check visits will become more frequent after the diagnosis of a skin cancer. These visits may be to Dr. Weichert, Dr. Simice, or your own family doctor depending on the features of your skin cancer. Recommendations for frequency of visits will be outlined in your initial consultation letter from the doctors at Skin Care West to your family doctor.

Please see our menu at right for links to more information on checking yourself (or others) for skin cancer, as well as other helpful information about skin care.