When Should I Get Screened for Skin Cancer?
- Posted on: Jan 15 2022
Skin cancer is the leading form of cancer in America. This is bad news. However, there is good news. Skin cancer can be treated. The key to the best-case scenario in terms of prognosis is early detection. When skin cancers are found early, they can often be removed with conservative care, such as Mohs surgery or even cryosurgery. Skin cancer screenings are the foundation of early skin cancer detection and treatment. These exams, performed first at home and then, yearly, by a dermatologist, can detect full-blown skin cancers as well as precancerous lesions before they progress to skin cancer. Here, we discuss what you should know about these important health screenings.
How Often Should I Get a Full Body Skin Exam?
It is wise to schedule full-body skin cancer screenings annually. This is beneficial for every adult and can be vitally important for people with higher risk factors for skin cancer. Those risk factors include:
- Blonde or red hair
- Light eye color
- Skin that sunburns or freckles easily
- Personal history of sunburns
- Family history of melanoma
- Tanning bed use
- History of unusual moles
- A suspicious-looking mole
- More than 50 moles
What Happens During An Annual Skin Screening?
During a routine, full-body skin cancer screening, the dermatologist carefully observes all markings on the body from head to toe. A special instrument called a dermatoscope may be used. This tool lights and magnifies the skin so the doctor can observe the fine details of moles and growths. Notes may be made of suspicious-looking spots or photos may be taken to create a visual record that can be used to compare changes from one exam to the next. In some cases, a small tissue sample may be obtained from a suspicious growth. This sample is sent to the lab for testing.
A skin cancer screening checks for all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma. This serious form of skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, so the doctor may examine the scalp, in between the fingers and toes, on the nail beds (don’t wear nail polish to your appointment), and even the genital area or the eyes.
At What Age Should You Start Getting Screened for Skin Cancer?
Generally, it is advantageous to begin scheduling routine skin cancer screenings in your twenties or thirties. The more time that you spent or do spend in the sun, the earlier you should start getting skin cancer screenings. Likewise, if you have a family history of skin cancer or personal history of sunburns, especially burns that blistered.
At the Advanced Laser & Skin Cancer Center, patients can expect thorough, respectful treatment during skin cancer screenings and procedures. To schedule your screening at our office in Teaneck, NJ, contact us at 201.836.9696.
Posted in: Skin Cancer Treatments