Get Checked: Skin Cancer Screenings are Crucial - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on April 19, 2016

Get Checked: Skin Cancer Screenings are Crucial

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer – there are more skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other types of cancer combined.

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list of upcoming screenings.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer – there are more skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other types of cancer combined.

It’s important to regularly inspect your skin for new spots or changes to existing moles and alert your doctor if you see anything you think may be abnormal. Ideally, you should give your skin a once over every month in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Get familiar with any blemishes, freckles, moles and other marks on your skin – this will help you determine if anything looks different in the future.

Although each type of skin cancer has a different appearance, you should look for changes in size, color and texture. If a mark has an irregular outline, is bigger than 6 mm or a quarter inch, increases in thickness, or appears after the age of 21, let your doctor know.

But self-exams don’t replace a skin cancer screening by your doctor – your primary care physician and dermatologist are trained to carefully check your skin and pinpoint changes that could indicate the presence of skin cancer.

Not only does your doctor know what to look for, but where. Skin cancer doesn’t always necessarily develop where a sunburn occurred – it can develop anywhere on the skin, even in places you may not think to look, like under your finger nails or between your toes or other spots hard to see yourself, such as your scalp and back.

If your primary care doctor notices something that concerns her during a skin cancer screening, they can perform a biopsy to confirm if it is skin cancer.

Early stage skin cancer may be limited to the mark or mole on your skin. However, untreated skin cancer, like other forms of cancer, can grow and spread to nearby tissues and organs, which can lead to deformity, scarring, loss of function in some parts of the body, or even death.

The reason regular skin exams by your doctor or dermatologist are important is that most skin cancers can be found early in these exams – when they’re found in their early stages, they’re easier to treat.

Regular skin cancer screenings are especially important for people who have a higher risk of skin cancer, including people who’ve had skin cancer before, people with reduced immunity and people with a strong family history of skin cancer.

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