Skin cancer is common, but it's also easy to treat when you catch it early through a skin cancer check. That's why seeing your dermatologist for an annual skin examination is important. The exam doesn't take long if the doctor doesn't find anything suspicious, so it isn't a drain on your time. If you have skin cancer and it's caught early, taking the time to have a skin cancer check could save your life. Here's information you may want to know.
Your Entire Body Is Examined
You can get skin cancer anywhere on your body, even if the area never sees the sun. That means your dermatologist has to check you from your scalp to your toes, including your mouth, ears, and between your fingers.
Your dermatologist may or may not check your genital area, so you may want to ask about that. Your gynecologist or urologist might help monitor that area if you prefer. However, if you have any suspicious spots on your body, even in your genital area, be sure to let your gynecologist know.
The Dermatologist Uses A Magnifier
It's often difficult to see tiny moles, so your dermatologist will probably move a lighted magnifier over your skin so they don't miss anything. They'll want to note the size, color, and shape of your skin growths to determine if they need to be biopsied.
They might take photos and measurements of some growths so the growths can be monitored for changes. If a growth looks like it could possibly be cancerous, you'll probably have a biopsy done the same day.
Your Dermatologist May Ask About Your History
If you're seeing a dermatologist for the first time, they may ask a lot of questions about the spots on your skin. This lets them know if growths are new or if they've changed. These are two indications of skin cancer, so this is important information to pass on. Be sure your doctor knows about any growth that you're concerned about.
You might have age spots, moles, and skin tags. These aren't necessarily signs of cancer. Moles to be concerned about might have irregular borders, bleed, change color, or get bigger.
Your Dermatologist Might Want More Frequent Checks
You can ask your family doctor about when you should have your skin cancer check done by a dermatologist. They might recommend going once a year, but your dermatologist might want more frequent checks if you have fair skin, a history of sunburns, a family history of skin cancer, or if you've had skin cancer in the past.
You might need to be monitored closely for a period of time and then go back to annual visits. Between your dermatologist visits, you'll want to do skin cancer checks on yourself at home regularly so you catch changes in your skin you can tell your dermatologist about.
To find out more, contact a company like Advanced Dermatology of Northern California.