Leaders in healthcare agree that prevention plays a crucial role in the management of cancer. Health screenings are performed routinely as a preventative measure. There are few areas in medicine where screening is more important than with melanoma. Prevention of melanoma plays an important role because currently, no cure exists once it spreads. Because moles are potentially linked to skin cancer, a dermatologic evaluation is one common method of detection. This is especially true a person who already has multiple moles, or if there is a family history of skin cancer.
What is a skin cancer screening?
A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin by a dermatologist or other medical professional. No blood work or radiological imaging is conducted at a screening.
Why are skin cancer screenings necessary?
A few skin cancer statistics may help answer that question:
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually
- Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon
- Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime
- One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 57 minutes)
- Of the seven most common cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing
Are skin cancer screenings covered by my insurance?
Currently most insurers cover routine skin cancer screenings. For information about your individual health care expenses, particularly in the setting of high deductible plans, contact your health insurance company for details.
Which areas of my body will be screened for skin cancer?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends full-body examinations whenever possible. Moles may develop anywhere the skin goes, even if the locations have never been exposed to the sun. The skin examinations are performed in a private setting and in a discrete manner while providing the visualization necessary for the dermatologist to evaluate and diagnose potentially life-threatening lesions. The staff is professionally trained and plays an important role in maintaining the modesty of our patients.
How often should skin cancer screening be performed?
Typically skin cancer screenings are performed annually. If however, there is a strong family history or personal history of skin cancer, visits every 3 to 6 months are performed depending on the condition.
Skin Cancer Screening Extras
Skin cancer screenings are also an opportunity to inquire about other rashes, growths or procedures you may have questions about. Commonly incidental findings such as acne, warts, razor bumps and toenail fungus are detected on examination for which your dermatologist may provide solutions.
Do not wait until a suspicious mole doubles in size or bleeds or becomes painful to schedule your skin cancer screening. If skin cancers are detected and removed early in the course of their development, 100% cure rates are attainable.