Regular cancer screenings for skin can keep you safe and healthy. Here’s why you should visit Premier Dermatology in Alpharetta, GA for regular screenings.
How Often Should You Get Cancer Screenings for Skin?
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it does a lot to protect you. Keeping you safe from outdoor elements like wind, grime, water, and the sun, your skin is your body’s first line of defense.
Because your skin does so much for you, it’s important to maintain its health. One of the best ways to do that is to get screened regularly for cancer. Most people will get screened for cancer as part of their annual checkup at the doctor. However, if you have a family history, have had skin cancer before, or you have a skin type more prone to cancer, then your doctor may recommend you get checked more frequently.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Cancer is a scary word. It’s an illness caused by abnormal cell growth in the body. Skin cancer is mostly caused by sun exposure, which is why it’s so important to wear sunscreen when you go outside. The UV rays that the sun emits can affect the way that your skin cells grow.
However, the sun isn’t the only potential cause of skin cancer. If you have another condition that might predispose you to cancer or you’ve been in contact with toxic substances, that can also put you at risk.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Although everyone is at a certain level of risk for skin cancer, some people are higher at risk than others. Those who have had skin cancer in the past, or who have a family history of cancer are more likely to get it than those that don’t. Likewise, if you have fairer skin, then you’ll be more strongly affected by the sun’s UV rays and therefore more at risk for cancer.
If you have ever received extremely bad sunburns, then you may also need to be screened more regularly for cancer. People with psoriasis who have received UVB treatments are also at higher risk.
How Do You Perform a Self-Exam?
While going for regular cancer screenings at your doctor’s or dermatologist’s office is important, there’s still plenty you can do in your own home to stay proactive about your health. One of the things you can do is to examine yourself for any signs of cancer.
Check your body over regularly for any abnormalities on the skin. You should look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer. If you find a mole or lesion that is asymmetrical (A), the border (B) is irregular and not well-defined, the color (C) varies within the lesion, the diameter (D) is more than 6 millimeters wide, or the lesion evolves (E) over time, then those are signs that it might be cancerous.
What Happens at a Cancer Screening?
When you visit our clinic for a cancer screening, Dr. Brent Taylor will carefully inspect your skin to check for signs of cancer. He will check for the ABCDEs of cancer on various parts of the body.
Self-examinations will come in handy at your skin cancer screenings. If any areas concern you, then Dr. Taylor will know to pay close attention to those. The screening itself is fast, painless, and should only take about 10 minutes in total. If there is an area of concern or you have a family history, however, the screening may take a little longer.
What Happens If Something Abnormal Is Found?
It’s impossible to tell just by looking at it whether a lesion, mole, or bump is cancerous. If an abnormality on your body is suspicious, then several different courses of action may be taken. You may be told to continue monitoring the abnormality for a time, and pay attention to any changes that may take place.
If a bump or mole is strongly suspected to be cancerous, then most likely a biopsy will be done that same day. Test results from the biopsy can take a week or two to receive, and you will be called with the results.
What Happens If I Have Skin Cancer?
If an abnormality on your body is determined to be cancerous, then the first step will be to determine what type of cancer it is, and how far it’s progressed. There are several different types of skin cancer, and the best treatment option will depend on which type you have.
Some types of cancer, like basal cell carcinoma, can be easily removed surgically. But other types, like melanoma, may require more rigorous treatments like radiation. This is especially true if the cancer has spread anywhere beyond the skin. If you are confirmed to have cancer, then a treatment plan will be set up for you.
Get Regular Cancer Screenings from the Best Dermatologists
It’s really important to be proactive about your health. Self-examinations combined with regular cancer screenings will help you catch cancer early, meaning you get a much better prognosis than if you wait. Ready for your screening? Visit us at Premier Dermatology in Alpharetta, GA today.