Until a few years ago, I didn't realize that one should have yearly skin checks with a doctor. Since then, I have been trying to remember to do these yearly and had one yesterday. The checks can be done by either a dermatologist or your primary care physician. These examinations look at the general health of your skin, but primarily focus on any precancerous or cancerous looking areas. The goal is to find problems early and treat them before they become serious. The check involves looking at the outside of all parts of your body from head to toe including your private parts (1% of melanomas start in the buttock area). The only hands-on part is when the examiner combs through your hair looking at your scalp. The whole process is quick and easy. Often if there is anything that needs attention, it can be taken care of during the same visit.
It is important to make this part of your regular heath care. If there is a reason that getting to a doctor is difficult, I am providing links for self examination. Remember to get a partner to help you, because you will need help in seeing some areas. And most importantly, if you see any changes in your skin, especially involving a mole, have a doctor check it out right away. Don't wait for your yearly check. Skin cancer can kill.
Here are links for more information:
Melanoma Education Foundation
American Academy of Dermatology
Skin Cancer Specialists