It’s that time of year. Springtime is time to see your Dermatologist. Though the American Cancer Society does not have specific guidelines based upon age and risk factors for how often you should see your doctor, a good rule of thumb is to visit your dermatologist at least once a year. Should you go in for a full body exam? How long does it take? Can your regular family doctor do this or should you see a dermatologist? Can you just examine yourself? Here’s what you need to know!
Should you go in for a full body exam?
Yes. The earlier you are able to detect a skin cancer, the easier it is to treat it successfully. Full body professional skin exams are critical in early detection of skin cancers, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Studies have shown that skin exams reduce the risks of melanoma and decrease melanoma mortality by more than 60%.
How long does it take?
A full body exam will take 10 to 15 minutes. This includes a review of your medical history and a complete skin examination from head to toe. You should feel free to ask your dermatologist about any questions that you have form concerns over existing spots getting bigger, new spots popping up, and what you should look for when examining your own skin. You should tell your dermatologist about any notable change in a mole. Generally, spots that the doctor is concerned about will be biopsied.
Can your regular family doctor do this or should you see a dermatologist?
Dermatologists have special training that includes the diagnosis and management of skin cancers. Your regular family doctor can examine your skin and evaluate whether or not you should immediately see a specialist. People with histories of skin cancer and numerous moles have to see their dermatologist every three months. For others, once a year is suggested by the American Cancer Society.
Can you just examine yourself?
Yes and no. Yes, you can and should examine yourself. It is a good idea to have an idea of the condition of your skin. You should be aware of your normal pattern of moles, freckles, and blemishes. Self-exams are very helpful for early detection, but no, a self-exam alone is not good enough. Your dermatologist has skills, training, tools, and expertise to help you maintain healthy, cancer-free, skin.
There is no cure for cancer, so detecting and treating it as early as possible is critically important good health. The hot days of summer are around the corner, so take a moment to ensure the health of your skin and your readiness to be out in the sun. Springtime, it’s a good time to see your dermatologist!
Learn more about Skin Cancer
Learn more about skin cancer and protecting your skin from the Skin Cancer Foundation, an international organization devoted to education, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment of skin cancer, the most common cancer in the world. We encourage you to visit some of the valuable articles that can be found on their website.