Malignant melanoma is completely curable in its earliest stages, but only in its earliest stages, say most experts. The American Cancer Society recommends periodic self-examination. The exam should be done often, permitting you to learn the pattern of your moles, and their colors and textures so that you can spot a change or a new growth.
The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests: E.Y.B.S.O.Y.B. (Examine your birthday suit on your birthday.) Persons whose doctors suggest they are especially at risk should follow the steps at more frequent intervals.
The ten steps are:
Step One: Undress completely in a well-lighted room in which you have a full-length mirror, a blow-dryer, two chairs or stools.
Step Two: Examine your hands with the palms face up -- palms, fingers, spaces between fingers and forearms. Then the backs, including fingernails.
Step Three: Hold up your arms, bent at the elbows with palms facing you. In the mirror, look at the backs of your forearms and elbows.
Step Four: In the mirror, observe the entire front of your body. Also look at your face, neck and arms. Turn your palms to face the mirror and look at your upper arms, chest, abdomen, pubic area, thighs and lower legs.
Step Five: In the mirror, look at the entire side of your body -- hands, arms, underarms, sides of trunk, thighs and lower legs. Repeat process with the other side.
Step Six: With back to mirror, look at buttocks and backs of thighs and lower legs.
Step Seven: With your back still reflected in the full-length mirror, use a hand mirror to examine back of neck, back and buttocks and backs of arms. Ask help from spouse or friend for areas which are difficult to see.
Step Eight: Examine your scalp in the same way, using both mirrors. Use blow-dryer (on cool) to lift hair from scalp.
Step Nine: Sit down and prop up one leg on chair or stool in front of you. Using hand mirror, examine the inside of the propped up leg, including groin and genital area and moving the mirror down the leg to your foot. Repeat for the other leg.
Step Ten: Still sitting, cross one leg so that by using the hand mirror you can examine the top of your foot, the toes, toenails and spaces between the toes. Then look at the sole or bottom of your foot. Repeat for other foot.