Skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of the skin performed by your dermatologist. It is done to identify skin abnormalities such as changes in moles, freckles and the appearance of suspicious skin changes.
Benefits of Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer screening exams increase the likelihood of detecting atypical skin lesions or catching skin cancer in the early stages, when most treatable. Any of the three types of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma) could be detected with a visual screening exam.
Skin cancers are very common and account for nearly half of all cancers. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, it is the most common type of cancer in the US. IF left untreated, skin cancers can continue to grow, and certain types, such as squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, can spread to other organs.
How Skin Cancer Screenings are Performed
Patients often discover the majority of skin cancers themselves. A monthly self-skin examination will alert you to changes that may require medical attention. It’s a good idea to visit your dermatologist for a professional skin cancer screening if you notice alterations in your skin including moles, new growths, scaly patches, bleeding, non-healing or changing lesions.
For a skin cancer screenings performed by a dermatologist, you will probably be asked to undress so that your entire body can be carefully examined. Areas on the skin that appear abnormal are usually biopsied to determine whether or not they are cancerous.
Who Should Have a Skin Cancer Screening?
There are no specific guidelines for routine skin cancer screenings for the general public, but individuals meeting the following criteria should be seen by a dermatologist:
- Anyone with a suspicious lesion or skin change
- Multiple moles
- Those with a family history of melanoma
- History of extensive sun exposure
- Persons with scaly patches of skin (actinic keratosis) due to sun damage