Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country. But how often should you be seeing your dermatologist for a skin cancer screening? Here's what you need to know.
If you have irregular moles on your body, it's a good idea to get them checked out once every year or two. It's also important to see your doctor whenever you notice changes in your moles. Irregular moles are one of the early signs of skin cancers like melanoma, which means it's important to monitor them on a regular basis. A combination of at-home examinations and routine skin cancer screenings can help you attain an early skin cancer diagnosis and develop a successful treatment plan. When your doctor is looking at moles, they'll check the "ABCs of skin cancer," which are:
Asymmetry - Moles should be symmetrical on all sides.
Borders - Moles should have a clearly defined, smooth border.
Color - Moles should be brown or tan in color.
Diameter - Moles should have a diameter smaller than the eraser of a pencil.
Evolution - Moles should remain consistent in size, texture, and color over time.
While the development of skin cancer isn't necessarily always genetic, it's important to pay attention to your family's medical history. A history of skin cancer could mean that you're more likely to develop skin cancer after a bad sunburn or as a result of irregular moles (irregular cell growth) on your skin. In these cases, it's best to see your doctor for a skin cancer screening at least once every year. At-home inspections of irregular moles and sun damaged skin are important to perform, as well. But ultimately, it's vital that you leave skin cancer screenings to the professionals for an accurate skin cancer diagnosis.
There are a few different factors that can predispose you to the development of skin cancer. Pale skin, more than one severe sunburn in your life, and light hair can all be contributing factors. If you have pale skin and burn easily, it's important to see your doctor for a skin cancer screening once every year or so. With a good sun protection plan, you should be able to effectively prevent several different types of skin cancer, but it's still important to make sure you're getting checked out by your dermatologist on a regular basis. Not sure what an effective sun protection regimen looks like? First, it's important to invest in a great sunscreen. Any sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is a good investment. In addition, make sure you're applying it every time you go outside and re-applying every few hours or so. Combined with protective clothing and shade, your skin should be adequately shielded from UV radiation.
Protecting yourself from skin cancer is easy. If you have more questions or think it's time to book a skin cancer screening, contact our team at North Pacific Dermatology to set up an appointment today.