When combatting severe diseases like skin cancer, early detection is crucial to treating the disease and increasing the likelihood of beating it. As the most common type of cancer in the United States, it is vital for patients to have annual skin cancer screenings with their doctors. While you can do a self-body check anytime, having a trained dermatologist performing a full-body, professional exam removes any doubts or concerns you may have.
What is a skin cancer screening & why are they important?
Skin cancer screenings are visual exams done by a health care provider or medical professional to look for early signs of skin cancer. During the exam, your doctor will look at moles, birthmarks, and other marks on the skin to determine if they are unusual in texture, shape, color, or size. The doctor will request a biopsy test for an official diagnosis if skin cancer is suspected. Detecting any potential cancerous spots early on makes the treatment more likely to be successful.
What to Expect
If you are getting screened at a dermatology office, here is what you can expect from the appointment:
- Once taken back to the exam room, you will remove most, if not all, of your clothing and put on the provided gown. If you are uncomfortable being alone with your doctor during the screening, you can ask to have a nurse in the room.
- The skin cancer screening is a complete head-to-toe body exam where the doctor will look over all areas, including your scalp, behind your ears, and around your bottom and private parts. It may be embarrassing and a little uncomfortable, but it’s super important that your doctor checks all over as skin cancer can pop up anywhere on the body.
- If there are any specific marks that you want the dermatologist to look at, or if they see something they want to take a closer look at, they will use a special illuminating magnifying glass to observe the area up close.
- The exam is around 10-15 minutes, after which they will let you know if any spots are concerning and leave the room for you to get dressed and check out.
On the day of your skin cancer screening, be sure not to wear makeup or nail polish and have your hair loose. Makeup and nail polish can cover up potential cancerous spots and make the skin harder to examine, and removing ponytail holders, clips, and bobby pins allows the doctor to get a good look at your whole scalp. Also, do not be afraid to have a conversation with your dermatologist. They are excellent sources of information and only want what’s best for you! This exam is a fantastic opportunity to talk to your doctor about any concerns, steps you can take to protect your skin or any questions you might have.
- Dallas Dermatology Partners
- Dermatology Skin Cancer & Surgery Center
- Skin Specialists of Addison