Don’t Put Off Your Annual Skin Cancer Screening
- Posted on: Nov 18 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have reevaluated what we consider essential and nonessential services and activities. Although everyone should take the necessary safety precautions during this unprecedented time, that doesn’t mean you should delay medical examinations, including your annual skin cancer exam.
Is It Safe to Visit a Dermatologist During the Pandemic?
Dermatologists and other medical professionals understand that patients today have concerns regarding in-office care. To ensure that Asarch Dermatology’s patients and staff members are protected, all of our clinics have put numerous health and safety measures into place, so you can feel confident about scheduling a skin cancer screening. Although these safety policies may vary slightly according to local guidelines, they’re all designed to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Clinics are pre-screening patients for the symptoms of COVID-19 before their appointments and requiring that they wear masks in the office. In addition, our staff members are pre-screened each day and are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Exam rooms are cleaned and sanitized frequently and social distancing is practiced.
Why You Shouldn’t Delay Scheduling a Dermatology Exam
Each year, more people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined, so having an annual dermatology exam is a vital component of detecting skin cancer early. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, at least one in five people in the US will develop skin cancer by the time they’re 70 years old. Unlike most forms of cancer that develop inside the body, the signs of skin cancer are usually visible. This makes a full body skin exam especially important, since dermatologists have the required training and experience to identify abnormal moles, brown spots, or freckles. And, dermatologists often discover worrisome spots that you might not even be aware of. Since early detection offers the highest chance of a cure, having a yearly skin cancer exam could even save your life.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, can grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body, and could quickly become life threatening if left untreated. The risk for melanoma is doubled for those who have had more than five sunburns. However, the Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 99% of melanoma cases that are detected early have a five-year survival rate.
How Often Should I Receive a Skin Cancer Screening?
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people have a full body skin exam from a dermatologist at least once a year, although more frequent screenings are usually needed if you have a higher risk of skin cancer. High-risk individuals include those who have a personal or family history of skin cancer, fair skin, a large number of moles, frequent tanning bed use, and a history of sunburns.
Even if you’re not at a higher risk, you should always be screened for skin cancer if you’re concerned about a particular spot that seems out of the ordinary. This way, you can feel secure knowing that everything is fine with your skin—or begin potentially life-saving treatment if skin cancer is detected.
What Happens During an Annual Skin Check?
The primary goal of an annual skin check is to look for anything that seems suspicious. This could be a mole that’s large in size, has an irregular shape, more than one color, or uneven edges. You’ll wear a medical exam gown while your dermatologist examines your skin from head to toe, carefully checking for suspicious spots or moles. The doctor will pay close attention to areas of your body that are difficult for you to see, such as the scalp, ears, back, and buttocks. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions, find out how to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, and learn how to perform a self-exam at home.
If your dermatologist suspects skin cancer, a biopsy of the lesion will be performed and sent to a lab for analysis. If a cancer diagnosis is made, your dermatologist will contact you and explain the type of skin cancer you have and the treatment options available to you.
Although COVID-19 has caused many people to delay scheduling a skin cancer exam, it’s an important aspect of your health that shouldn’t be ignored. To help you stay healthy, skin cancer must be treated early to prevent it from getting worse and spreading to other parts of the body.
If you’re due for your yearly full body skin exam or you notice a spot that just doesn’t look right, contact Asarch Dermatology right away. You can be assured that our clinics are a safe place to receive your important dermatological care.
Posted in: Blog Post