shows that regular skin self-exams could save 4,500 lives
annually. And there's new hope if you've already had malignant
melanoma. This spring Memorial Sloan-Kettering made news with
a vaccine that will one day immunize those who have had melanoma
against recurrences of the cancer; it will also help protect
those with a genetic predisposition. "The exact role of heredity
in melanoma is unclear," says Dr. Houghton, the chief researcher
in the vaccine study. "However, heredity is a factor in one
in 20 persons with melanoma, and you can inherit a melanoma
often you should perform skin self-exams depends on how high
your risk is. Here's how to do one:
showering, check yourself in a well-lighted room using a
full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror.
by checking moles and birthmarks you've had since birth.
Look for changes, especially a new mole or skin discoloration,
a sore that does not heal, or any change in the size, shape,
texture, or color of an existing mole.
at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Then raise
your arms and look at your left and right sides.
your elbows and look carefully at your fingernails, palms,
forearms, and upper arms.
the back, front and sides of your legs. Look between the
buttocks and around the genital area.
and closely examine your feet, including the toenails, soles,
and spaces between the toes.
at your face, neck, ears, and scalp. Use a comb or hair
dryer to move your hair so that you can see better. Or get
someone else to check your scalp for you.
you find anything suspicious, visit a dermatologist right
away and ask for a full-body exam.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
1997 by The Hearst Corporation; all rights reserved
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