Often a skin cancer screening happens accidentally. You go to our skin doctor for some other issue, and while you’re there, your doctor does a visual scan for any unusual spots on your face and body. She may even ask you if you’ve noticed any changes in moles or strange patches on your skin that won’t heal. But if you haven’t been to your dermatologist for a while, you may be missing out on this important screening.
Why check your skin for no reason?
By regularly checking your skin before you notice any problems, your doctor has the opportunity to use her trained eye and experience to look for signs of potential problems. She may be able to spot abnormal tissue — even cancer – that you could not. And skin cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when diagnosed at an early stage, when it can be easier to treat.
Understanding your risk
As with all forms of cancer, doctors and scientists are working hard to better understand who is are more likely to get skin cancer. This includes studying our lifestyles and diets, as well as family histories. With this kind of information, doctors can recommend which types of cancer you should be screened for and how often.
But don’t worry
Remember, just because your doctor suggests a screening test, it doesn’t mean she thinks you have cancer. A screening test is just that; and based on other factors, can be recommended even when you have no symptoms. If a screening test should bring back an abnormal result, then your doctor may recommend diagnostic tests to find out if cancer is present.
Simply take better care
In between regular visits to your dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer, you can also examine your skin at home for telltale signs, which can include:
- Uneven or blotchy moles
- Multiple moles
- Moles that have multiple colors, as if changing from one color to the other
- Skin lesions, especially ones that bleed