How often should you get a skin cancer screening?
There are many things that you can afford to skip but a skin cancer screening is not one of them, especially for those living in Florida, the sunshine state. The probability of contracting skin cancer is extremely high in this part of the country due to high exposure to sunlight. There are also many activities that may raise your risk of contracting melanoma such as using a tanning bed.
No matter what you may hear at tanning salons, the cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles, lax skin, brown spots, and more), as well as skin cancer. In fact, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and treatment melanoma has a very high cure rate.
What is a skin cancer screening?
Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.
Why are skin cancer screenings necessary?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States; in fact, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. People of all colors and races can get skin cancer. There are many different types of skin cancer, including actinic keratoses (AK), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. BCC and SCC are the most common forms of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most deadly. With early detection and proper treatment, the cure rate for BCC and SCC is about 95 percent. When melanoma is detected before it spreads, it also has a high cure rate. Regular self-skin exams and a yearly examination by a dermatologist help people find early skin cancers.
Preparing for the exam at the Orlando Dermatology Center:
-Remove all nail polish from your fingernails and toenails. We need to look at your nails and nail beds, since skin cancers can form there.
-Perform a full-body skin self-exam, and make note of any new, changing, itching, or bleeding moles, growths, or other lesions. You’re the person who has the best chance of noticing small changes.
The exam itself:
Time required: It only takes about 15 minutes. First, the doctor will ask you about both your family and personal skin history- whether anyone has had skin cancer, how often you’re exposed to the sun, how many sunburns you’ve had, and of course, whether you’ve ever done any indoor tanning.