Harvard Health Letter

Do-it-yourself skin cancer checks

How to spot potential problems and get peace of mind.

Skin cancer may be your last health worry under winter's gray skies. But skin cancer checks need to be a year-round maintenance effort. "About 50% of melanomas are identified by patients, and even more are discovered if the skin is examined with the help of a partner," says Dr. Kenneth Arndt, a Harvard Medical School professor.

Knowing what to look for can give you the confidence that you're being proactive about your skin health. A recent study published in Archives of Dermatology found that older adults who received a hands-on tutorial from a dermatologist and a computer-based tutorial in how to check for skin cancers were much more confident in their ability to identify early cancer signs on their skin and have them evaluated promptly.

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