Fewer than half of adults ever bother to check their skin for suspicious moles. But taking a look could save your life. The risk for lethal melanoma is reduced by 34% in those who regularly practice skin self-examination.
What You Should Do: Keep mirrors handy and you're more likely to perform skin self-exams, according to recent studies. Mount a full-length mirror and keep a handheld one near where you dress and undress. Check the backs of your legs, where some 20% of cancers hide in women. "Get familiar with how your moles normally look so you'll notice any changes," says Stephen Q. Wang, M.D., author of Beating Melanoma (Kindle edition) and director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. If you're at high risk, do head-to-toe exams monthly, use reminder software on your computer, or make it a habit to look over your skin the first day of every month or the first day of your period.