When it comes to treating skin cancer, early prevention is key. That’s why it’s important to visit your dermatologist once a year for an annual skin screening, skin check or skin cancer screening. This thorough examination gives your doctor a chance to take a close look at your skin in a proactive step toward early skin cancer detection and treatment. Though this annual appointment is nothing to fear, many patients are anxious before their first skin check or skin cancer screening.
Here are 6 things you’ll need to know before your first skin screening appointment to help you understand and make the most of the process.
1. Count On Spending About 15 Minutes Being Examined
Dermatologists are specially trained in the detection and treatment of the three types of skin cancers. For him and other doctors, that means years of grueling medical school. For you, that means expert care. A quick, 15-minute exam will give Dr. Doppelt a chance to closely review your skin and medical history. Count on answering a few questions about both your personal and family skin history, including how many sunburns you’ve had, whether a family member has had skin cancer, how much time you spend outside, and whether or not you’ve done any indoor tanning. The entire process should be over quickly, but will make a significant impact in your skin treatment plan.
2. Be Prepared To Be An Open Book
A thorough skin screening means allowing your doctor to look at ALL of your skin, including your fingernails, scalp and places that are normally covered by your clothing. After you undress, your doctor will scrutinize every square inch of your skin – from between your toes to behind your ears, maybe even with a dermatoscope. This isn’t a time to be modest, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to let it all hang out, either. Your doctor can only examine one part at a time and you’ll be able to cover up with a gown or sheet between takes. It’s also important to keep in mind that the skin screen isn’t just for your doctor; it’s a good time for you to learn your own skin, too. This will help you be aware of any changes to bring up at your next appointment.
3. Know What Your Doctor Is Looking For
When your dermatologist performs a skin screening, he’s looking for signs of changes on the skin that could indicate cancer. For example, pearly, pink or flesh colored bumps, wounds that won’t heal, rough papules and asymmetrical moles can all be signs of cancer. Your doctor will look everywhere: Count on being examined around your face, lips, inside the mouth, ears, neck, chest, torso, buttocks, arms, underarms, legs, fingernails, palms and even the soles of your feet. Learning the ABCDE’s of skin cancer can help you look for alarming signs too!
4. You Might Have To Pose For A Photo
Mole mapping is an important tool in the fight against melanoma. This process involves allowing your dermatologist or a technician to take a handful of high-resolution pictures of your skin’s surface. The photos can be closely inspected, allowing your doctor to zoom in and closely examine irregular-looking moles on a microscopic level. Changes can be charted and documented over time and the photographic process can help prevent needless biopsies.
5. It Should Be Painless
Chances are that your skin screening exam should be a totally painless experience. Even if your doctor finds something suspicious, it probably won’t be removed during the skin check. Depending on his findings, your doctor may order a biopsy or schedule a mole removal after the screening.
6. Honesty Is The Best Policy
Even if you’re ashamed of your history, you need to be open with your doctor during a skin check. Didn’t start using sunscreen until recently? Hit the tanning bed three times a week in high school? It’s time to fess up. Giving your doctor an accurate history of your skin will help him make the most out of your skin check, which will save both of you time, effort and help make sure you get the best treatment possible.
Still have questions or unaddressed concerns about your first skin screening? Let’s chat. We want you to want to come in for your annual screening. To ask more questions or schedule your skin screening, call Dr. Doppelt’s office today at (865) 474-8800.