Skin cancer screenings are an important part of skin cancer prevention. But how do you know when it's time for another appointment? Here are a few signs that it's time to schedule your next skin cancer screening.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are two of the most common types of skin cancer. Unfortunately, it's also likely that they will return after treatment. If you've had either of these types of cancer in the past, then your doctor will likely want to see you twice annually for skin cancer screenings. This type of cancer is typically treated with Mohs micrographic surgery. Fortunately, the Mohs procedure is also one of the best treatments for aggressive skin cancer.
Melanoma is a dangerous type of skin cancer. This is mostly because the tumors it forms have blurred borders and are hard to define, making it difficult to determine the true size or depth of the cancer. If you've been treated for melanoma in the past, your doctor will want to see you once every three months for the first year after your treatment for a skin cancer screening. After that, your exams will move down to twice yearly. Melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer, and while a screening every three months might seem excessive, it could mean the difference between an early diagnosis and catching another tumor too late.
You Have a Family History of Skin Cancer
A family history of skin cancer-- melanoma in particular-- is a good reason to make an appointment for a skin cancer screening. In this case, a screening once annually should be sufficient. The reason it's so important to have recurring skin cancer screenings if you have a family history of the disease is that you may be predisposed to certain types of skin cancer as a result of your genealogy. This particular factor may put you at a high risk of developing skin cancer at some point in life.
Irregular moles are often one of the early signs of skin cancer. While some people are born with benign irregular moles, it's important to get them checked out on a regular basis. This is especially vital if you start noticing changes in your already irregular moles. If this happens, it doesn't matter how recent your last skin cancer screening was. Any sudden changes in an otherwise static mole should be looked at by your doctor immediately.
Tanning beds have all kinds of negative effects on skin health, and they can be a factor in the development of skin cancer. If you use tanning beds on a regular basis, or you have used tanning beds in the past, it's a good idea to get checked for skin cancer at least once annually. This ensures that in the event you are exhibiting early signs of cancer, you can get a skin cancer diagnosis right away. If you have questions about the dangers of tanning beds, don't hesitate to ask your doctor and schedule a skin cancer screening.
A skin cancer diagnosis can be scary, but preventative screenings can help catch and treat it effectively early on. If you have questions about abnormalities on your skin and want to schedule a skin cancer screening, contact our team at North Pacific Dermatology to set up an appointment today.