How Often Should You Get Skin Checked for Cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and unfortunately, no one is immune. Early detection is key to treating skin cancer effectively. The cure rate for skin cancer is 95% with early detection. Since early detection is very critical to reducing the health risks posed by this type of cancer, undergoing an annual skin screening conducted by a qualified medical provider is very important.
A complete skin cancer screening involves a thorough examination of the skin to identify any questionable lesions and to inspect any areas of concern a patient may have. This type of exam is not invasive and doesn’t require blood work. At Altaire Clinic, our medical providers will review your medical history, and address any questions and concerns you may have. We will also encourage you to conduct regular self-screenings. At Altaire Clinic, we know the importance of early detection of skin cancer. We strive to educate our patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.
Skin cancer screenings should be done annually. If you are at risk of skin cancer, ensuring you have an annual screening will be crucial.
You are at a higher risk of cancer if:
- You have multiple moles
- Live in a sunny climate
- Have a history of sunburns or tanning bed use
- Have blond or red hair, fair skin, and light-colored eyes
- Spend a significant amount of time in the sun
- You have a weakened immune system
- Have a history of precancerous lesions
- Have a family history of skin cancer
We recommend self-checks at least once a month. We suggest getting to know what is a normal mole versus a skin lesion that is changing.
If you find an abnormal skin growth during a routine self-check, contact Altaire clinic to schedule a screening.
A regular skin cancer screening evaluates the skin all over the body. This is done to look for any unusual growths and other signs of skin cancer. Typically, the signs are difficult to identify and can be very subtle. A skilled medical provider can spot any changes that are associated with skin cancer and provide an additional evaluation when needed.
If You Have a Family History of Skin Cancer
People with a history of skin cancer or those with a family history of skin cancer are at an increased risk. People who have had squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma have an increased risk of developing melanoma. Because of this, a patient will require ongoing care to monitor for additional cancerous lesions, especially melanoma.
Compared to the general population, a melanoma survivor has a 9-fold increased risk of developing subsequent melanoma.
Know What to Look For
Regular self-screenings are crucial for the early detection of cancer. 70% of cancer cases are discovered by patients.
We recommend performing a monthly self-skin exam. The first time you perform a self check, make sure you spend time learning about the patterns of blemishes, freckles, and moles on your skin. This way, you can better track and compare the changes in the following months. Taking a picture of your moles is a great way to monitor for any changes from month to month. Always have irregular moles checked out.
If you find any changes in your skin or new lesions or spots that remain for more than two weeks, contact Altaire Clinic to schedule an appointment. In the early stages, skin cancer often has no symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- A new growth or spot on the skin
- Any changes in the color, shape, or size of an existing spot.
- A spot that’s painful or itchy
- A sore that doesn't heal and develops a crust or bleeds
- A skin-colored or red shiny bump on the skin
- A red scaly or rough spot
- A growth with bleeding or central crust and a raised border
- Wart-like growths
- Suspicious spots
- Irregular moles
- Scar-like growths that do not have a well-defined border
Cancer symptoms can vary and will depend on the location on the skin and the type of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma often appears on the hands, legs, ears, arms, neck, and face. However, it can also be found in other areas.
Symptoms can include:
- Sores that bleed and do not fully heal or sores that reoccur
- Scar-like, rough, or flat patches on the skin
- Waxy or pearly bumps on the skin
Squamous cell carcinoma often develops in areas that have high sun exposure but can also affect areas that are not exposed to the sun.
Signs can include:
- Itchy or painful lesion
- A crusty or scaly lesion that has irregular borders
- Red, firm nodule
Melanoma can be found anywhere on the body and can develop out of an existing mole.
Signs can include:
- Dark lesions on the toes, fingers, or mucous membranes, large brown spots with irregular edges
- Changes in the appearance of a mole
Other Skin Cancer Risk Factors
The primary risk factor for skin cancers is exposure to UV light, including tanning beds and sunlight, with the risk increasing with the amount of exposure. People who spend a lot of time outdoors and those who live in areas with year-round sunlight that do not wear sunscreen or protective clothing are at a higher risk. Keep in mind, not only people with fair skin and light hair are at risk for the development of skin cancer, it affects people with dark skin as well.
Other risk factors include:
- Immune suppression
- Skin tone
- Existing moles
- Family history
Sun Safety Practices
While skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, it’s also one of the most treatable, with early detection.
To reduce your risk of developing skin cancer:
- Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, year-round
- Wear protective clothing
- Avoid tanning booths
- Stay in the shade as much as possible when spending time outdoors
- Wear a hat with a wide brim that can shade your face, neck, ears, and head
- Wear sunglasses
- Regular skin cancer screenings
Contact Altaire Clinic Today to Schedule a Consultation
At Altaire Clinic, our team of experienced medical providers can perform a routine skin cancer check, identify any suspicious moles or unusual spots, conduct an additional evaluation and order the appropriate tests if needed. Remember, early detection of skin cancer is key. At Altaire Clinic, we want to ensure you remain in optimal health. A regular skin cancer screening can allow you to detect cancerous growths as early as possible, for more effective treatment.
If you’ve noticed an unusual growth on your skin, have a family history of skin cancer, or you’re due for your annual skin cancer screening contact Altaire Clinic today to schedule a consultation.
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