Looking for dermatologists for skin cancer screening is a hugely important step in caring for your body’s largest organ that can often go unconsidered. In fact, if you are like most people, you probably think of skin cancer as a disease that only affects older adults. However, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and it can occur at any age. That’s why it’s important to know about skin cancer screening, which is an exam performed by a dermatologist to look for signs of skin cancer. In this blog post, we will answer some frequently asked questions about skin cancer screening, including what age you should begin screening for skin cancer, how skin cancer screening works, and where to get screened for skin cancer.
What Is Skin Cancer Screening?
Also known as a skin exam, a skin cancer screening is pretty much what it sounds like—it is a visual examination of the skin for signs of cancer that may be present in the form of moles, unusual growths, or discoloration. The purpose of a skin cancer screening is to detect any early warning signs of cancer, as the earlier skin cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat—and the less it is likely to spread.
At What Age Should I Get Screened for Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is not just a disease for the geriatric! In fact, most dermatologists recommend getting screened as early as in your 20s. However, there are certain factors that may put an individual more at risk for developing skin cancer than others, covered in the following section.
Who Needs Skin Cancer Screening?
There is no hard and fast rule for who will develop skin cancer and who won’t, but there are certain characteristics that may make a person more inclined to develop the disease. Risk factors include:
- An excessive amount of moles
- An excessive amount of sun exposure
- Family history of skin cancer
- A history of a large number of previous sunburns
- Skin susceptible to burning/freckling easily
- Light eye color (such as blue), skin tone, or hair color (such as blonde or red)
Is Skin Cancer Screening Considered Preventive Care?
Preventive care is considered any measures taken to ensure the current status of your health while you are still free from symptoms. The point of preventive care is to catch the disease in its early development and to stop it in its tracks before it worsens. This can keep the costs of treatment down, reduce suffering, and save the patient time. Skin cancer screenings are considered a method of preventive care, as those who opt to get examined for skin cancer might not have any symptoms to their knowledge.
Are Skin Cancer Screenings Covered by Insurance?
But if skin cancer screenings are considered preventive care, does this mean they aren’t covered by insurance? The short answer is: usually, yes, depending on your coverage, an insurance company may cover a piece of or the totality of your yearly skin cancer screening. However, do not bank on this without clarifying with an insurance agent about the details of your specific policy.
How Often Should I Get a Skin Cancer Screening?
Younger people between the ages of 20 and 40 can often get away with a skin cancer screening only once every three years—however, once a patient reaches 40, it is generally a good idea to include cancer screening as part of an annual exam. However, if you are a population that is more susceptible to skin cancer due to skin tone, mole count, or even if you live in a sunny climate, you may want to have your skin screened for cancer once a year anyway, just to be on the safe side.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?
Skin cancer can take a number of different forms and can manifest in ways as unique as the patient themselves. However, there are a few skin growth indicators that may mean a person has developed skin cancer. Some common manifestations of skin cancer include:
- An irregularly-shaped mole, or one with a patchwork of colors
- A mole that changes over time in color, size, or border
- An oozing or bleeding sore that won’t heal
- A new growth, spot, bump, or wart-like growth
- A scaly rough patch of irritated skin that may bleed or crust over
How Does Skin Cancer Screening Work?
Sometimes, a skin cancer screening can become more involved than simply visually examining a patient for signs of abnormal skin growth or behavior. If dermatologists for skin cancer screening catch an area on your skin that looks out of the ordinary, they usually perform a biopsy on the growth to determine if it is cancerous.
During the biopsy process, a dermatologist will remove as much of the potentially cancerous tissue as possible. The tissue is then sent to a pathologist who will observe the tissue under a microscope to check for signs of cancerous cells. Sometimes it is prudent to have the tissue sample checked by multiple pathologists in order to verify the status of the abnormal growth as cancerous or benign. The average wait time for a pathologist to examine the tissue from a local excision is around 15 minutes.
Dermatologists for Skin Cancer Screening
The good news is, most skin cancer growth can be seen without the use of a microscope, though a pathologist is necessary to verify or refute a potential cancer diagnosis. If you suspect you may have a malignant growth such as melanoma, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately. The sooner you are able to catch melanoma, the likelier you will be able to defeat it without a chance of it coming back or spreading. Why wait? Schedule a skin cancer screening with National Healthcare Center today!
Still have questions about the process of skin cancer screening? For more commonly asked questions about skin cancer screening, check out our recent article on the topic!