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By Dr. Mercola
Skin is your body's largest and fastest growing organ, used to protect your body from bacteria and germs, regulate your temperature, get rid of waste products and house a nervous system that allows you to feel and sense your environment.1 Your skin is what others first notice about you, and is an indicator of both internal and external aging.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the U.S.2 Estimates suggest nearly 20 percent of all Americans will experience some form of skin cancer during their life. Non-melanoma skin cancers affect nearly 3 million Americans each year and more than 1 million are living with melanoma. The rates of diagnosis of basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), non-melanoma skin cancers, have been rising dramatically.
There has been an increase of 145 percent of BCC between 1976 to 1984 and 2000 to 2010, and a 263 percent increase of SCC during the same period.3 Routinely inspecting your skin increases the likelihood you'll recognize changes that may need medical attention, and will help you become more familiar with your unique pattern of moles (nevi), freckles and blemishes.
Monthly self-inspection is done in a well-lit room with the assistance of mirrors to inspect areas that are difficult to see. Your first examination may take longer as you record the location of moles and freckles on your body. This enables you to confirm the location and any changes each month forward. You might notice that a mole suddenly appears where there wasn't one before, or a mole you've had for years may start to disappear.
Evolution of a Mole
Moles are growths on your skin that are usually black or brown, but can be a lighter tan. They usually appear in childhood anywhere on your body, either alone or in groups. By the time you reach your mid-20s it's common to have 10 to 40 moles.4 Moles happen when cells that provide color to your skin - melanocytes - grow in clumps together instead of spreading...
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