What if all that was needed to ensure that your skin stayed as cancer-free as possible was to allow a professional to take a good look now and then? That’s exactly how skin cancer surveillance exams can benefit you and your well-being.
During the roughly 15-minute exam, you’ll swap out your clothing for a gown, and then you’ll lay or sit on a table while your provider examines your skin from your head to your toes. They’ll not only look over any unusual moles you’ve noticed, but they’ll also check areas you aren’t able to see yourself, such as behind your ears, under your hair, or in your buttoks.
At the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Dr. Hendi and his team of skin cancer specialists offer these comprehensive visual exams to detect signs of the disease. In this blog, they explain why you might need an exam.
You have risk factors for skin cancer
No one is completely immune to skin cancer, but a variety of factors can increase your risk of developing it, including having:
- Blond or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
- Light-colored skin
- Certain types of moles
- Family or personal history of skin cancer
- Many moles
Your skin cancer risk also increases with age, so you may need skin surveillance exams more frequently over time.
You have an unusual or changing mole
An unusual or changing mole could be a sign of skin cancer, so it’s important to have your skin examined when you notice one. Some of the specific signs to look for include moles that are asymmetrical, jagged around the edges, or have multiple colors. A mole larger than ¼ inch, or about the size of a pencil eraser, is another potential sign.
Additional skin cancer symptoms to take note of include:
- A sore that won’t heal
- Changes in sensation, such as pain or itchiness
- Scaling or bleeding
- Pigment that spreads to surrounding skin
You value preventative medicine
Skin cancer is almost always quite treatable when it’s detected early. In fact, 99% of cases are curable if they’re diagnosed and treated early. Early detection is especially important for the most severe form, which is melanoma. For these reasons, routine skin exams are important if you care about preventing cancer or severe cancer outcomes.
If during your skin exam your provider notices potential signs of skin cancer, they may remove cells or an entire mole for testing. Once the results are in, they’ll call you to discuss any necessary next steps.
To learn more about skin cancer surveillance or to get the skincare you need, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ali Hendi, MD, today.