Skin cancer occurs when there is an out of control growth of abnormal cells in the skin’s outermost layer. The growths are caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations and can cause malignant tumors to form. According to the AAD, One in five adults will develop skin cancer before the age of 70. Fortunately, if caught early, treatment and outcome are drastically improved. Skin cancer screenings are an early intervention method you can do at home and by your provider. Annual screenings are recommended for specific risk categories, though self-checks are a good idea regardless. What happens during a skin cancer screening is minimal compared to the benefit it brings.
Why Skin Cancer Screenings are Important
Truthfully, anyone can get skin cancer, but certain factors increase those risks. Having five or more sunburns doubles your chances of developing melanoma. Other factors that raise your risk for skin cancer are:
- Family history of skin cancer
- Lighter natural skin tone, or skin that burns easily in the sun
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Older age
- Unprotected exposure to UVA & UVB Rays by the sun or tanning
- Atypical moles
Skin cancer screenings can help detect cancer early on so your dermatologist can treat it with little to no scarring, and the odds are high of eliminating it. If you know the risk, you can work with your provider on early intervention. The exam takes about ten minutes, and your doctor will have you undress and get into a medical gown. They will examine every inch of your body, even the less visible ones like your scalp and between your toes. They are looking for any potential signs (ABCDE’s) of skin cancer spots that are:
- Asymmetry: Not the same on both sides
- Border irregularity: Ragged or blurred edges
- Color: Has different shades of tan, brown, or black
- Diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch
- Evolving: Changes over time
If any spots are a concern, your dermatologist may do a skin biopsy to remove a piece of the area and send it to the lab to identify.
Skin Cancer Self-Checks
No matter the personal risk, checking your skin at home regularly is a good idea too. This helpful guide will ensure you cover every area and how to reach those harder areas as well. Keep in mind the ABCDE’s when you are looking at spots and bring anything questionable or worrisome to your doctor.
ForCare’s board-certified dermatologists are highly skilled with various methods of removal and treatment for skin cancer. We are Mohs Surgery capable, which is the most precise skin cancer removal method in our state-of-the-art dermatology lab and facility. To request an appointment, visit our website, or call (813) 960-2400.