Skin cancer is a serious medical condition that is best treated with preventative measures. If you can catch skin cancer before it spreads to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body, your survival rate is much higher and your chance of getting skin cancer again in the future is much lower. The best way to prevent skin cancer is with skin cancer screenings at Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta in Alpharetta, GA.
What Are the Signs You Should Get a Skin Cancer Screening?
A skin cancer screening is also known as a skin check. This is a simple exam during which a dermatologist will look at your skin to identify any suspicious patches or moles. If a dermatologist identifies a mole as potentially cancerous, they will then make medical recommendations, such as Mohs surgery or biopsy procedures.
But what are the signs that you may need to have a skin cancer screening? Many factors may put you at higher risk of developing skin cancer in the future, as well as symptoms that may be a sign of current skin cancer. It’s in your best interest to understand what signs you should look out for so you can get a preventative screening sooner rather than later.
One of the first signs you may need a preventative skin check is the number of moles you have on your body. Skin cancer most commonly presents in abnormal moles, so as a matter of statistics, you’re more likely to have a cancerous mole if you have more moles on your body. If you have 40 to 50 moles or more, you should schedule regular skin checks with a dermatologist to screen for cancer.
Some forms of melanoma (skin cancer) are hereditary. If your parents or another blood relative were ever diagnosed with skin cancer, then you may be more likely to develop skin cancer in the future. To be safe, scheduling a skin check every couple of years will ensure your health is well looked after.
Hair, Skin, and Eye Color
Certain characteristics about your appearance also make you more likely to develop skin cancer in the future. People who have naturally red or blond hair, people who have freckles or freckle easily, people who have light-colored eyes, and people who have fair skin that burns easily are all at higher risk of developing skin cancer. That said, skin cancer can also develop in people who have darker skin, hair, and eyes, but it is much less common.
New Moles or Growth
In terms of symptoms, if you notice any new moles or new growths like warts on your body, then you should schedule a skin check as soon as possible. For most people, we are born with the moles we will have for our entire lives, so developing new moles on the body could be a sign of abnormal skin growth. A wart-like bump or growth on the skin can also be indicative of certain types of skin cancers.
Changes in Moles
If you notice a mole on your body is changing, then this may be another sign you should schedule a skin check. Healthy moles are generally the same in size, shape, and color; if you have a mole that is multiple colors, growing larger, has abnormal edges, or is obviously asymmetric, you may have a suspicious mole that needs to be assessed by a dermatologist.
That said, it is possible to have odd-looking moles on the body that are completely benign. If you have one mole that looks a little strange, check other areas of your body for similar moles; if other moles look the same, then you may not need to worry. However, if there is only one strange mole, then a biopsy may be necessary to determine whether or not the mole is benign.
Sores and Scales
If you have a scaly patch of skin or a sore on the skin that doesn’t heal even after several weeks, this could be an indication of abnormal growth. The skin can heal very quickly, but skin that may be cancerous will sometimes bleed, crust, or heal and then bleed again in cycles. If you have any area of your skin that consistently remains abnormal or does not heal, then you should schedule a screening for skin cancer.
What Can You Expect From Your Screening?
Usually, screening for skin cancer is a 20 to 30-minute process where a dermatologist will make a visual examination of the skin on your body, particularly areas that have moles. During your exam, your dermatologist may use a high-resolution camera to capture images of moles or patches of skin to get a better look at the potentially abnormal growth. From there, any suspicious moles will usually be recommended for biopsy or total removal.
Be Proactive About Your Health
Preventative health measures are incredibly important, particularly for concerns such as cancer. If you think you have any of the signs of skin cancer or if you have any factors that may place you in a high-risk category, you should schedule a screening for skin cancer soon. Contact us at Premier Dermatology and Mohs Surgery of Atlanta in Alpharetta, GA to schedule your screening today.