When should I schedule a skin cancer screening?

woman getting skin cancer screening

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

However, there is good news: skin cancer is also one of the most preventable and treatable cancers. Seeking shade during the mid-day, wearing protective clothing and applying 30+ SPF sunscreen are the best ways to prevent sun damage and lower your risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer screenings with your dermatologist allow for earlier detection of skin cancers.

Skin cancer screenings

But what is a skin cancer screening – and what time of year should you schedule one? One of our Roper St. Francis dermatology experts weighs in.

“A skin cancer screening is usually a head-to-toe exam,” says Lindsey Bressler, MD, dermatologist at Perry Dermatology. “Your dermatologist will take a close look at your skin, especially sun-exposed areas as well as hard-to-see places like the scalp, between the toes, even your nail beds.”

If you’re wondering when you should schedule a skin cancer screening, Dr. Bressler recommends the following guidelines:

A baseline look at your skin is the best way to spot any problems – or keep an eye on a potential issue before it turns into something more dangerous.

There are two categories of skin cancer:

“Some types of skin cancer are slower growing,” says Dr. Bressler. “When cancerous spots are caught early, a patient’s treatment options are possibly less invasive.”

Best time of year for a skin cancer screening?

Inquiring minds want to know: is there a good time of year to get a skin cancer screening?

Dr. Bressler says there’s no medically recommended time to get a screening – but it needs to be a time that works for you.

“We recommend you schedule your screening when you can be examined without makeup or nail polish and are comfortable wearing a gown,” says Dr. Bressler. “Timing is also important. If we see a suspicious spot that we’d like to biopsy, it’s best not to be heading out on a beach vacation in the next few days.”

A biopsy removes a small sample of a suspicious spot to determine a diagnosis. This in-office procedure is quick and tolerable for almost all patients. If the biopsy is confirmed to be cancer – or determined to be a growth that needs to be removed – your dermatologist will discuss treatment options with you and help guide you to the best course of action.

At-home sun safety tips  

The best thing you can do for your skin is to take care of it proactively. Dr. Bressler’s best at-home skincare tips include:

Lastly, make sure to examine your skin once a month at home.

“We’re all so busy, it’s easy to neglect our skin,” says Dr. Bressler. “But take the time once a month to look for any new spots, as well as spots that change in size, shape or color. It can really make a difference.”

Schedule a skin cancer screening with your dermatologist today. If you need a referral to a dermatologist, please call (843) 402-CARE or visit rsfh.com.


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