Skin cancer is a concern that most people are aware of in the back of their minds, but few people think about it on a regular basis or expect to be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lives. The fact is, though, that every year, about 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer according to the American Cancer Society. The only way to know if you may be one of them is to schedule a skin cancer screening with a qualified professional like a board-certified dermatologist or a physician assistant specializing in dermatology.
Is it time for you to get a skin cancer screening? Our team at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta is here to help you find out whether you should schedule a screening with these five important signs.
It’s Been Too Long Since Your Last Screening
Skin cancer is incredibly common – a study in the Archives of Dermatology medical journal estimated that one in five Americans will get skin cancer at some point. This is why everyone needs regular skin cancer screenings.
For most people, the recommendation is to get a professional screening once per year, though people at high risk may need screenings more often. If it has been more than a year since your last screening or if it has been longer than your dermatologist recommended based on your last visit or your family history, it’s time to get a skin cancer screening on your schedule.
You’ve Noticed Changes in Your Skin
You know your skin better than anyone because you live in it every day. Generally, if you notice any unexpected changes in your skin, it’s a good idea to schedule a screening to check it out.
This includes changes to your moles, like a new mole, a mole that has begun to itch or bleed, a mole that has become painful, a mole that has changed colors, or other shifts. Skin cancer doesn’t only appear as a mole, though. Changes like a suspicious dry or scaly spot on your skin or a dome-shaped growth, for example, are signs that it’s time for a screening. Knowing the ABCDEs of melanoma and warning signs for other forms of cancer is critical in finding and treating skin cancer early.
You’ve Been Spending Time in the Sun
There are many factors that affect your skin cancer risk, but a major factor is your exposure to UV radiation, including sunlight as well as tanning lights. Your skin cells can accumulate small amounts of damage that add up over time, and this can gradually lead to skin cancer.
If you have had a significant amount of sun exposure in the past or since your last skin cancer screening, it’s a good idea to schedule a screening so that your provider can identify and evaluate any new damage that may have appeared. Remember that sun damage happens all year round, not just during the summer when you’re lounging by the pool or on the beach.
Someone in Your Family Has Been Diagnosed with Skin Cancer
Like any other medical condition, some people are more susceptible to skin cancer than others. In the case of skin cancer, that susceptibility tends to run in families. That’s why your dermatology provider will ask about any family history of skin cancer.
The tricky part is that you don’t know if your genes put you at a higher risk for skin cancer until a family member is diagnosed with the condition. If you have an immediate family member who is diagnosed with skin cancer, especially if their skin cancer is melanoma, it means that you are probably at a higher risk than you thought so you should schedule a screening.
Protecting Yourself from Serious Skin Cancers
Skin cancer is a condition that anyone can develop, and we all need to take daily steps to protect ourselves, such as wearing sunscreen every day and wearing sun-protective clothing including hats and sunglasses. Even with these steps, regular skin cancer screenings are critical because they can detect skin cancer lesions before they spread and lead to serious complications.
We have two doctors that perform this procedure, Dr. Scott Karempelis and Dr. Joseph Payne. To protect your skin today, call and schedule a skin cancer screening at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta. Our experienced providers can identify any areas of concern and, if necessary, we offer a variety of skin cancer removal treatments including Mohs surgery. We are proud to have multiple Mohs surgeons including one of the country’s first surgeons board-certified in Mohs surgery for skin cancer. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more skin health tips.