Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every hour. Dermatologists encourage everyone to be a 'Skin Cancer Hero' by learning this life-saving behaviour in conjunction with Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Melanoma Monday.

The American Academy of Dermatology is encouraging the public to be a "Skin Cancer Hero" by learning how to detect skin cancer early when it's most treatable. The campaign aims to save lives by teaching the public how to identify the warning signs of melanoma, perform a skin self-exam. To increase their chances of spotting skin cancer early, when it's most treatable, Dr Hendi recommends that everyone check their skin for the ABCDEs of melanoma, the warning signs of this disease:

  1. A is for AsymmetryOne half of the spot is unlike the other half.
  2. B is for BorderThe spot has an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
  3. C is for Color: The spot has varying colours from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown or black, or areas of white, red or blue.
  4. D is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimetres -; or about the size of a pencil eraser -; when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  5. E is for Evolving: The spot looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or colour. Even if you don't have any other symptoms.

"When detected early, skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable, making it imperative to check your skin regularly," said Dr Hendi. To perform a skin self-exam, Dr Hendi recommends the following tips:

  1. Examine your entire body -; front and back -; using a full-length mirror. Then, look at your right and left sides with your arms raised.

  2. Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feetCheck your fingernails and toenails; however, make sure to remove any nail polish first.

  3. Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part your hair for a closer look.

  4. Finally, check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror. Consider asking a partner to help, as another set of eyes can be helpful for checking the back and other hard-to-see areas.

SPOT Skin Cancer™ is the AAD's campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer. 

The public can help raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer, when sharing AAD resources on social media, and by encouraging friends and family members to take advantage of the AAD's free skin cancer screenings.