Skin Cancer Screenings

Skin Cancer Screenings

Skin cancer, or an abnormal growth of skin cells, is the most common type of cancer; more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. There are multiple types of skin cancer, the deadliest of which is melanoma. But early detection vastly increases a patient’s chance of surviving melanoma. The five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma was detected early was about 99 percent, but that rate fell to 20 percent when the cancer metastasized to other organs. The best way to ensure early detection of skin cancer is to schedule regular screenings with your dermatologist.

Who Should Get Annual Skin Cancer Screenings?

Every person should have their skin screened annually by a dermatologist, because skin cancer can affect anyone. However, certain factors like age, ethnicity, gender and sun exposure can affect your likelihood of getting skin cancer.

About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanoma skin cancers can be attributed to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, so those who spend an extended amount of time in the sun should be even more vigilant in checking their skin and scheduling annual screenings.

Men are also more likely than women to die of melanoma. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, of the estimated 9,320 predicted melanoma deaths in the United States in 2018, 5,990 will be men and 3,330 will be women.

Those with fair skin who sunburn easily are more susceptible to skin cancer because, on average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

Who Will Perform the Skin Cancer Screening?

Our board-certified dermatologist will perform your skin cancer screening.

What Can I Expect During a Screening?

Before your appointment, scan your own skin and make note of any freckles, moles or spots to which you’d like our dermatologist to pay special attention.

Immediately prior to your screening, you will take off all your clothing and put on a medical exam gown. Our dermatologist will then quickly examine each part or your skin, including less-visible places like your scalp, between your toes, and the soles of your feet.

What is the Dermatologist Looking For?

Our dermatologist is looking for any spots on your skin that show signs of melanoma. To remember which symptoms to watch for, think of it as the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma:

  • A = asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape?
  • B = border. Does the mole have edges that are blurred or jagged?
  • C = color. Is the mole or spot different shades of black or brown?
  • D = diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
  • E = evolving. Have you noticed the mole or spot changing over time?

How Long Does A Screening Take?

Your cancer screening will last no longer than 10 minutes, depending on whether the dermatologist finds any suspicious spots. If she does, you will need a mole biopsy, which is the only way to diagnose skin cancer. The doctor will administer a numbing medication and remove as much of the mole as she can. Our office will then send the biopsy to a pathologist, who will examine it under a microscope for cancer cells.

If you have further questions about skin cancer or you need to schedule an appointment, contact us. Remember, if caught early, skin cancer is curable, so don’t hesitate to schedule your skin cancer screening.