Cancers of the skin are by far the most diagnosed types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, around 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year—that’s a lot of skin cancer. And nearly 8,000 people are expected to die from skin cancer this year alone, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. While it’s unavoidable to stay completely out of the sun at all times, especially if you live in an area known for its heat and sunshine, there are ways to detect skin issues before they progress into a dangerous form of skin cancer. Below, we’ll discuss the importance of a regular skin check.
The short answer? Yes. While there are not specific standards for skin checks, it’s important to know your own skin as well as your history and what to monitor. Annual skin exams are recommended for people who are at higher risk of skin cancer, such as people who have had a family history of skin cancer, people who are in the sun frequently, and those with specific skin types more prone to skin cancer. Still, everyone should make an appointment with their dermatologist for a skin check regardless of skin type or pigment.
Why is a skin check important?
Skin exams are your best line of defense in detecting cancer before it spreads or becomes more difficult to treat. Oftentimes, when an abnormality is discovered, your doctor can send a sample of your skin tissue for biopsy to be able to rule out whether cancerous cells or present or whether the abnormality is benign.
What does a skin check involve?
Your dermatologist will check your entire body for any spots that show discoloration, a change of shape in moles, or any additional abnormalities. If there are none, you are free to go. If they find something, they will likely call for a follow-up appointment where they can take a biopsy of the area to send to the lab. Be sure to proactively show your dermatologist any areas that you might have been concerned about.
Do I have to wait a year to get my skin checked again?
Absolutely not. You can make an appointment any time to have your skin checked, and if you feel that something looks suspicious you should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist immediately. You can also perform monthly self-examinations of your skin in the mirror to check for anything out of the ordinary. It’s important to know what to look for, so the Skin Cancer Foundation Created a memory tool to look for the warning signs of skin cancer ABCDE:
- Asymmetrical moles
- Borders of melanoma spots tend to be patchy and uneven
- Colorful moles or moles that change in color can indicate skin cancer
- Diameter is also a sign; the larger the spot’s diameter, the more likely it is to be cancerous
- Evolving moles are a cause for concern, so pay attention to changes
If you need a Tampa dermatologist to check your skin, be sure to call the experienced dermatologists at Academic Alliance in Dermatology today!