Skin Cancer Screenings: When to Get It and What to Expect
Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed kinds of cancer in the country but thankfully, two of its more common varieties (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) can normally be cured with quick discovery and treatment. This is a great thing to keep in mind, but there are other kinds of skin cancer out there (such as melanoma) that are much more dangerous and are directly linked to a majority of skin cancer deaths in the US.
Cancer of almost any type can be treated much more effectively if it is caught in its early stages of development. With this in mind, it is important that you catch them early enough to treat them by way of a visual skin exam with a professional dermatologist or surgeon.
There are no hard and fast rules for when people should consider getting a skin cancer screening. Keeping that in mind, it is also never too early to get a skin exam (especially if you have never had one) so that you can be sure you aren’t at risk of developing skin cancer.
Some specialists suggest getting an exam if you meet one of several different risk factors. Ask yourself a few of these questions to see if you might be at risk of developing skin cancer in the future:
- Do you have hair that is blonde or red in color?
- Are your eyes green or blue in color?
- Does your skin seem to burn or freckle with ease?
- Do you have a history of developing sunburns easily?
- Does anyone in your family have a history of skin cancer?
If you discover that you have a family history of skin cancer, you should think about getting a skin exam for yourself as soon as possible. If nothing else, it establishes a medical baseline for future examinations and allows you to schedule regular checkups with ease.
Screenings for skin cancer are fairly simple – a visual exam of your skin by a professional to discover if anything is out of place or abnormal. You’ll get into a gown provided to you by the office, and it will be a simple exam of your skin from your head to your toes, anywhere that you feel safe being checked. If you are uncomfortable having a certain part of your body being looked at, make sure you let your doctor know before the exam begins.
If something is found, the doctor might take a biopsy, a procedure that usually takes a small amount of time. The biopsy will confirm whether the lesion is cancerous, precancerous, or benign. From that point on, it will be important to keep an eye on the area, as skin cancers can often extend beyond areas that you can easily see. Your biopsy results should be returned to you within a week, and your doctor will explain any appropriate next steps to take.
If you think you might be at risk of skin cancer or would like to have a screening done just to be on the safe side, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Heartland Plastic Surgery & MedSpa so you can be sure that you aren’t at risk – and if you are, quickly take appropriate action so you don’t have to worry about it anymore. After all, there’s no harm in playing it safe, and by keeping up with screenings, you can ensure you keep your skin healthy for a long time to come.Back to Blog home