How Often Should You Be Seen for Skin Cancer Prevention?

 How Often Should You Be Seen for Skin Cancer Prevention?

Skin cancer is a common, sometimes deadly form of cancer that is highly treatable when detected early. Skin cancer screenings with a qualified dermatologist are your best bet for avoiding surgery or illness, but how often should you be seen for skin cancer prevention?

An Easy Answer

Skin cancer is very survivable when it’s detected early and treated with just as much urgency. The most important part of preventing skin cancer is avoiding sun damage. The next two most effective ways of preventing skin cancer involve a visual exam. The easiest way to spot skin cancer is to pay attention to your own skin and perform self-exams a few times a year. But self-exams are limited to what you can see of your own skin, so it’s not enough to just stop there.

You should also be examined by your dermatologist at least once per year. These exams are comprehensive and cover your skin from head to toe. Your dermatologist can look at hard to see places like the scalp and back. If they note anything that looks out of the ordinary, they can take a biopsy of the skin and determine whether or not it’s cancerous. If cancer is detected, you can move very quickly and get the treatment you need. The Skin Cancer foundation, an organization devoted to skin cancer research and prevention, suggests that you schedule even more visits if you’re more at risk for skin cancer. Risk factors that would necessitate more frequent evaluations include previous skin cancer, a history of blistering sunburns, or in some cases, a family history of certain types of skin cancer.

Why Are Yearly Skin Cancer Screenings Necessary?

With early detection and intervention, skin cancer is very easy to treat. In many cases, you may be able to get away without so much as a scar once all is said and done. Treatment varies from Mohs surgery and even laser therapies to more deep surgical excisions. The former treatments are much less likely to cause scarring but can only be conducted on early forms of skin cancer. No matter what your treatment is, the outcome and odds of surviving skin cancer are incredibly good if it’s detected early. It cannot be overstated how important skin cancer screenings are, and that’s why having at least one per year is absolutely necessary for your health.

If you have experienced multiple instances of sun damage earlier in life (or even more recently) or went to tanning salons when that was the trend, you should be seen more regularly. Protecting your skin going forward is also critical for skin cancer prevention. Always use sunscreen on any parts of your skin that will be exposed to sunlight. Opt for SPF 30 or higher, and avoid direct sunlight when possible. Sunscreen should be used year-round, and protecting your skin from sun damage can do more than just prevent skin cancer. Sun damage also causes the skin to prematurely age, as the damage inflicted by ultraviolet light breaks down and weakens skin cells. No matter your motivation, make sure that you’re taking your skin’s health seriously.

Look after your skin, and take skin cancer as seriously as it deserves to be taken. Whether it’s your first screening or your fifteenth, reach out now, and schedule one with the experts at Pacific Dermatology Specialists today.

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