Woman With Moles On Back

Skin Cancer Screenings: 5 Things to Know

Many people don’t realize that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America. It affects millions of people every year, more so than breast cancer, colon cancer, or lung cancer. Since it is so prevalent, routine screenings by a dermatologist are incredibly important. After all, you never know when a suspicious mole, bump, or skin patch might turn into something serious.

If you’ve never had a screening or it’s been a while since your last one, schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates in Fayetteville, NY today. In the meantime, take a moment to educate yourself on skin cancer screenings and what to expect.

  1. Always Check Your Moles at Home

The first line of defense against skin cancer is to perform at-home self-evaluations. After a shower, stand in front of a mirror and check your entire body for anything that looks suspicious. Don’t forget to look at your scalp, back, and the backs of your legs. If you do see something abnormal, you’ll want to visit a dermatologist to either confirm a diagnosis or get some peace of mind.

  1. Knowing Your Risk Factors Is a Must

If you’re at a higher risk for skin cancer, it’s recommended to get screened once a year. High-risk factors include:

  • Personal or family history of melanoma or other skin cancers
  • History of severe or frequent sunburns
  • Frequent sunbathing or use of tanning beds
  • Presence of many moles, especially many atypical-looking moles
  • Weakened immune system
  • Underlying health conditions, like xeroderma pigmentosum (XP)
  • Exposure to radiation or certain chemicals, such as arsenic
  • Having light-colored skin, light hair, and freckling

Not sure how often you should be getting screened? After your first appointment, your dermatologist will let you know when he or she wants to see you again for a second screening.

  1. Seeing a Dermatologist Is Your Best Bet

Most people only get professional skin cancer screenings when and if they see worrisome symptoms at home first. However, it’s a good idea to go for an evaluation even if you don’t see anything. A dermatologist’s trained eye can detect potential warning signs better than anyone. Plus, they’ll be able to look in those hard-to-see places, like your back and scalp.

  1. How Providers Identify a Suspicious Mole

During the exam, the dermatologist will pay close attention to moles and growths, especially those that are new, have changed over time, or itch and bleed. They’ll also check if the mole is:

  • Asymmetrical
  • Has ragged edges
  • Multicolored
  • Large in size

Even if these skin cancer warning signs appear, there may be no reason to worry. Moles vary greatly in appearance, and they change for many reasons, including aging, hormonal fluctuations, and more. Your dermatologist can explain their findings to help you take action if needed or offer peace of mind if there’s no cause for concern.

  1. What to Expect During a Skin Cancer Screening

Most full-body skin exams are quick and painless. You’ll be asked to undress, remove your makeup, and put on a medical gown. The dermatologist will then perform visual checks of your entire body, from your head to your toes and everywhere in-between. This usually lasts about 10 minutes. If they find something suspicious, they may want to examine that area more closely and might perform a biopsy. A biopsy occurs when a doctor collects a sample of your skin tissue to send out for testing and determine a diagnosis.

Don’t Wait to Get Your Skin Checked

Ready to get screened? Dermatology Associates in CNY can help. Our experts can diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer, including melanoma and basal/squamous cell carcinomas. Our office offers state-of-the-art tools and techniques, like Mohs surgery, to make sure you get the treatment you deserve. Give us a call at 315-663-0100 to schedule an appointment today.