Skin Cancer | Diagnosis & Tests


Learn More About Skin Cancer Diagnosis & Tests

Atypical Moles

What's the best way to do a skin self-examination?

The best way is to use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror to check every inch of your skin.

1. First, you need to learn where your birthmarks, moles and blemishes are and what they usually look like. Check for anything new, such as a change in the size, texture or color of a mole, or a sore that doesn't heal.

2. Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at the left and right sides.

3. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your palms and forearms, including the undersides, and your upper arms.

4. Check the back and front of your legs.

5. Look between your buttocks and around your genital area.

6. Sit and closely examine your feet, including the bottoms of your feet and the spaces between your toes.

7. Look at your face, neck and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move hair so that you can see better.

By checking yourself regularly, you'll get familiar with what's normal for you. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor. The earlier skin cancer is found, the better.

How will my doctor diagnose skin cancer?

Your doctor will examine your skin. If you have skin changes that might be skin cancer, your doctor will do a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small piece of your skin is removed and sent to the lab for testing.


See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 01/96

Learn More About Skin Cancer Diagnosis & Tests

Atypical Moles