Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., which means it's important to invest in a skin cancer check every now and again. But what are the most common reasons for people to go in for a skin cancer check? Here's what you need to know.
While skin cancer isn't necessarily passed down genetically from generation to generation, a family history of skin cancer is still a good reason to learn how to check for it and to see your doctor. It's possible that your family is prone to sun damage or severe sunburn. It's also possible that your family has a history of non-sun-related skin cancer issues. Regardless, if you find out that your family has a history of skin cancer diagnoses, then it's time to set up a screening with your doctor. Doing so can not only help you identify skin cancer, but it can help teach you how to prevent it.
While most moles are benign, an irregular mole is definitely cause for concern when it comes to skin cancer. Irregular moles can be an early sign of melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer that spreads quickly and can be difficult to treat if it's not caught early on. Not sure what to expect from a skin cancer check when you have irregular moles? When you go in for a mole check, your skin cancer dermatologist will look at the "ABCDEs 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.
Pale skin might not seem like a great cause for skin cancer screenings, but the truth is that it does make you more susceptible to skin cancer that develops as a result of sun damage. UVA and UVB rays are well-known to cause cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell skin carcinoma. If you have pale skin and you're not taking appropriate sun protection measures, then you could be at risk for developing one of these cancers. How often should you check for skin cancer? In most cases, it's advisable to get checked for skin cancer at least once annually.
Even one severe sunburn can put you at a greater risk for skin cancer if you're not careful. This is why it's paramount to make sure you're wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 15 every time you go outside. A history of severe sunburn means that your skin cells have already been damaged. Any further damage could lead to cancerous cell growth. If you've suffered from severe sunburn at any point in your life, it's time to invest in a skin cancer screening.
If you're not sure whether you're at risk for skin cancer or not, these characteristics are a good sign that you need regular skin cancer screenings. If you're concerned about developing skin cancer, contact our team at North Pacific Dermatology to set up an appointment today.