By Peggy Jo Goodfellow, Arizona Farm Bureau: Several months ago, I noticed a small pimple like sore with a crusty top on my arm. When it didn’t go away, I made an appointment with my Dermatologist. The doctor performed a biopsy and found that I had a squamous cell carcinoma. He immediately scheduled surgery to remove the cancer.  I was fortunate, the surgery removed all the cancer and no radiation treatments were necessary.

While your dermatologist can look for skin cancer, research has shown that patients, not doctors, are most likely to spot melanoma because they are most familiar with changes on their own skin.

Did you know that nearly 80,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma this year?  Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. My doctor said that 98 percent of those diagnosed with early-stage melanoma will survive, but it's a much darker picture for those who don't find melanoma until it has spread beyond the skin to other organs. At that stage, the survival rate drops to just 16 percent. Melanoma is just one of several types of skin cancer. More than 3.5 million people will develop basal and squamous cell carcinoma this year.

Many people are squeamish about analyzing or talking about their bodies.  But there's no question that getting up close and personal with our bodies is the best way to spot a telltale change before it becomes a dangerous health threat. From our hair to our skin to the soles of our feet, what we see is in many cases what we get. The best way to stay healthy is to banish your embarrassment, let it all hang out, and take a closer look

Research has shown that patients, not doctors, are most likely to spot melanoma because they are most familiar with changes on their own skin. In fact, more than half of all melanomas are detected by everyday people - just by paying attention to their or their loved ones' skin. Get naked in front of the mirror, take a closer look at your skin and perform a skin self-exam. If you see something funny or different, make an appointment with a dermatologist. 

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor about a mole you're not sure about. Ask your spouse, your partner, or family member to help you keep track of suspicious moles and check hard-to-see places. Don't be shy - cancer doesn't discriminate. Skin cancer can develop on anyone - no matter their age, gender or race.  

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