Your dermatologist is an important part of your healthcare team. Your dermatologist performs a vital service that could save your life–regular skin cancer screenings. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and there are several types including:
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Malignant melanoma
The first two types are typically easy to treat if caught in their early stages. The third type, malignant melanoma, can be disfiguring and even deadly.
Regular skin cancer screenings can help catch skin cancer early before it can grow worse or spread. During a regular skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will check your skin, looking for scaly patches, redness, and other skin abnormalities.
In addition, your dermatologist will check your moles, looking for any moles that are:
- Large, with a diameter 6 millimeters or greater
- Irregular, with ragged, uneven borders
- Asymmetrical, with one side different from the other
- Growing back after previous removal
If your dermatologist notices any suspicious areas or abnormal moles, a skin sample or the entire mole may be removed and sent off for a biopsy. A biopsy is the definitive way to diagnose the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells.
Regular skin cancer screenings are important to your continuing good health. In addition to skin cancer screenings, it’s important to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Remember to:
- Wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 daily, or at least SPF 30 if you are outside for a long period of time
- Wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 50 if you have light skin and are at higher risk of skin cancer
- Wear hats, sunglasses, and other protective items
- Try to stay out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, when ultraviolet rays are most damaging
Being out in the sun can feel great, but it can be harmful to your skin. Protect yourself with regular skin cancer screenings from your dermatologist. To find out more about the benefits of regular skin cancer screenings, call your dermatologist today.