One-in-five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. Let that sink in for a moment – One. In. Five!
The good news is that when caught in its early stages, skin cancer is highly curable.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends an annual skin exam performed by a dermatologist and monthly self-exams performed at home to catch cancer before it has a chance to reach the point where it can cause disfigurement or death.
Wondering if you’re at increased risk of skin cancer? You are if you have…
- a personal or family history of melanoma
- fair skin, red or blonde hair and light eyes
- a history of sunburn/excessive UV radiation exposure
- many or unusual moles, or a
- weakened immune system
Skin exams, both self-check and by a dermatologist, will help to identify any suspicious moles, growth, or changes to your skin.
Look for these 3 things when you’re performing a self-exam:
- New moles or blemishes that pop up
- Changes in the color, shape, size or texture of existing spots
- Spots that have unusual outlines or continuously itch, hurt, crust, or bleed for more than 3 weeks
Make the most of your professional Full Body Skin Exam by following these tips:
- Schedule annual appointments. Note: You’ll need to be seen more often if you’ve ever had basal or squamous cell cancer or melanoma.
- Note the location of any moles that have you concerned. Write down questions you have in advance so you don’t forget during your appointment.
- Don’t be shy. Skin cancer can be found anywhere on your body. Don’t let a few minutes of awkwardness keep you from detecting any problem moles.
What Happens During a Full Body Skin Exam?
During your 10-20 minute appointment, the dermatologist will check for any moles that look unusual. For a thorough exam, you’ll need to take off all of your clothes and wear a medical exam gown. You’ll be asked if you’ve noticed any spots that concern you, then every inch of your body will be examined.
During the screening, the dermatologist is checking for “ABCDEs” in your moles, which are all possible signs of skin cancer:
- Border Irregularity
You’ll also be checked for actinic keratosis, or sun damage, which can turn into skin cancer if left untreated.
What if They Find Something Suspicious?
If the dermatologist finds a mole that looks problematic, a biopsy will be performed to determine if it is skin cancer.
During the biopsy, you’ll receive a local numbing medicine and the mole will be scraped to collect a sample. Then the specimen will be sent to a lab, where a trained pathologist will check it under a microscope for cancer cells.
If the biopsy results are benign, no further action will be required, but if cancer is detected, the dermatologist will call to discuss your treatment options with you.
Schedule Your 2020 Exam Today
Schedule your Full Body Skin Exam with Integrated Dermatology of Tidewater online at www.idtidewater.com or by calling the office at (757) 461-1033.