Skin Cancer Overview

Prostate Cancer

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in your skin that can be dangerous and cause problems if not taken care of. Skin cancer is commonly found on the head, face, neck, arms, and hands but can grow anywhere on the body. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.

Your Skin

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It serves as protective layer for your bones and muscles and contains three layers, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.

Risk Factors

Factors that can increase your risk of developing skin cancer include:

  • Frequent exposure to the sun (during work or leisure)
  • Having lots of sunburns
  • Having light-colored skin tone, hair, and/or eyes
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Being over 50 years of age
  • Having skin that burns or freckles easily

You can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by wearing sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when in the sun, and avoiding being in the sun for long amounts of time.


You can screen yourself for skin cancer at home. It is recommended that you complete a self-examination once a month.

  1. Gather a handheld mirror and comb.
  2. Remove all clothing.
  3. Stand in front of a full-length mirror (if possible).
  4. Begin to examine your body from head to toe looking for more signs of concern in any moles or skin spots using the ABCDE rules. Move from the top of your body to the bottom.
  5. Don’t forget to check your underarms, back, of your legs, between your fingers, and toes, bottoms of your feet, and genitals.
  6. Use the hand-held mirror to see parts of your skin that are harder to view and/or ask someone you trust to help.
  7. Use the hand-held mirror and comb to check your scalp and/or ask someone you trust to help.
  8. If you identify any areas that are concerning, you may want to see your doctor.


Asymmetry – the shape of the mole is odd or does not match the other side

Border – the border of the mole is irregular and/or blurred, not sharp

Color – the color of the mole varies in shade or is multiple colors

Diameter – the mole is greater than 6mm across

Evolving – the size, color, shape, or texture of the mole had changed