Give a Valentine’s Day Gift that Matters

This Valentine’s Day, show your loved one how much you care about his health – help him check his skin for signs of skin cancer. In men, one third of melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are found on the back, which is difficult to see on your own body. Men are also much less likely to examine their own skin, and studies have shown that when their skin cancers are found at an early stage, they were most often detected by a spouse or partner.

Studies have also shown that couples who check one another for skin cancers tend to do so more scrupulously than people who do skin self-exams alone. Having a partner to help with the exam can make it easier both to remember to check the skin regularly and to examine areas such as the scalp and back.

“Conducting a skin exam with a partner can dramatically reduce the risk for having an advanced skin cancer and could possibly mean the difference between life and death,” said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation.

While a monthly self-exam shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, it offers the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the three most common skin cancers.


Know the Warning Signs

Be careful to take note of the following:

  • A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored.
  • A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
    • changes color
    • increases in size or thickness
    • changes in texture
    • is irregular in outline
    • is bigger than 6mm or 1/4”, the size of a pencil eraser
    • appears after age 21
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed.
  • An open sore that does not heal within three weeks.

Look for any of the warning signs when you perform a self-exam. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately.

To find out more about how to spot a skin cancer and for information on self-exams.