The Importance of Annual Skin Exams

patient getting skin exam

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., but annual skin exams can help detect it at its earliest and most treatable stages. These exams can also allow your dermatologist to find and remove precancerous lesions before they develop into skin cancer.

How Often Should You Get a Full Body Skin Exam?

You should get a full body skin exam once a year. This is especially true if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Blonde or red hair
  • Light eye color
  • Skin that freckles or sunburn easily
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Personal history of sunburns
  • History of unusual moles
  • Tanning bed use
  • More than 50 moles
  • A suspicious-looking mole

What is An Annual Skin Screening?

Your dermatologist will examine your skin from head to toe, and if any unusual spots are seen, they can be examined with a dermatoscope- a special tool that makes it easier to get a magnified, detailed look at these spots.

Your dermatologist may also make a note of a suspicious spot so it can be monitored over time. Photos may be taken so this skin exam can be compared with the next one. Your doctor may also want to take a small tissue sample of the lesion (a biopsy) to send to a lab for testing.

At What Age Should You Start Getting Screened for Skin Cancer?

In general, you should start getting screened for skin cancer in your 20s or 30s. However, if you’re in the sun a lot, have a family history of skin cancer, or have moles, you should be checked sooner.

What is Melanoma Screening?

A melanoma screening is a head-to-toe skin exam conducted by your dermatologist. Areas including your scalp, fingers, toes, and fingernail and toenail beds will be examined. Your dermatologist will look for suspicious spots that could be signs of or could develop into melanoma or another type of skin cancer.

What is a Full Body Skin Exam?

This yearly exam enables your dermatologist to thoroughly check your body for the presence of any suspicious spots. After the first exam, the results of subsequent exams will also be compared to the one before it to look for any changes.

How Often Should You See a Dermatologist?

You should see your dermatologist for a regular skin exam once a year, or sooner if you have specific concerns you’d like to address.

Is Skin Cancer Screening Preventive Care?

Skin cancer screening is a type of preventive care. It can detect lesions that are pre-cancerous so your dermatologist can remove them if needed. This exam also can help detect skin cancer before it spreads and when it’s at its most treatable.

For more information on an annual skin exam, make an appointment today with Dermatology Treatment and Research Center in Dallas, TX. We offer the latest treatment technologies and years of experience combined with compassion and friendliness.