How Important Are Annual Skin Exams?

Did you know that skin cancer is the MOST COMMON type of cancer in the United States? Here’s what we know… annual skin exams with your dermatologist can detect skin cancer early when it is most treatable, and even avoid the development of skin cancer. Pre-cancerous lesions, when identified at annual skin exams, can be treated or removed before they develop into skin cancer.

Who is most vulnerable to skin cancer?

Fair skinned people, those with blonde or red hair and/or light colored eyes are typically the most susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun. But even if you have darker skin, if anyone in your family has had melanoma or unusual moles you could also be at risk. Another group that may be at a higher risk of skin cancer than the average public are people who have experienced multiple sun burns or have used tanning beds. Finally, if you have a suspicious looking mole or more than 50 moles, that would be a reason for concern.

How Often Should You Get a Full Body Skin Exam?

Regardless of your history or time in the sun, you should get a full body skin exam at least once a year. If you have a history of skin cancer, your dermatologist will probably want to see you at least every 6 months.

At What Age Should You Start Getting Screened for Skin Cancer?

Depending on the amount of time you spend in the sun, you should start getting checked in your twenties or thirties. If you work outdoors, or spend a lot of your recreational time in the sun, you should start getting skin checks in your early twenties.

What is Melanoma Screening?

A melanoma screening is a head-to-toe professional exam, conducted by a dermatologist. Areas like your fingers and toes (including fingernail and toenail beds) as well as your scalp will be examined. Your dermatologist will look for suspicious lesions that could be signs of early skin cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.

What Should I Expect at My Annual Skin Exam?

At your annual screening, your dermatologist will take a good look at your skin from head to toe. Any unusual spots would be further examined and noted. Photos may be taken for future comparison. Sometimes, suspicious or pre-cancerous spots may be frozen. By freezing the skin, a blister is created underneath the lesion. Ideally, as the new skin forms underneath the blister, the abnormal skin on top of the blister peels off. Occasionally, the lesion may be biopsied and sent to a lab for testing.

How Often Should You See a Dermatologist?

You should see your dermatologist for a regular skin exam once a year, or as directed by your dermatologist.

Is Skin Cancer Screening Considered Preventive Care?

Skin cancer screening is absolutely a type of preventive care. Regular exams can detect lesions that are pre-cancerous so they can be treated or removed as needed. Regular exams also help to identify dangerous melanoma early, before it has had a chance to spread and while it is at its most treatable stages.

For more information on an annual skin exam, make an appointment today with our dermatology clinic in The Villages or Leesburg, FL. We offer years of experience and the latest treatments for skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions.