What are annual skin checks?
We provide skin checks to patients of all ages. Knowing your skin is extremely important for identifying cancer early. When cancer is found early enough, it will be much easier to treat. If you are at higher risk of skin cancer, regular exams are especially important.
You may be at higher risk of skin cancer if:
- You have reduced immunity
- You have had skin cancer before
- You have a strong family history of skin cancer
What are skin checks?
Skin checks/exams are usually included as part of routine health check-ups. During the exam, we will discuss any skin concerns that you might have. No matter what skin type you have, proper care is extremely important. The exam involves a head-to-toe skin examination, as well as review of your medical history. Our board-certified dermatologists all have special training that includes the diagnosis and management of skin cancers. Any notable changes in moles will be checked out. If we see a spot that might be cancerous, it will be biopsied.
Should I perform self-examinations?
Skin cancers most often develop as new spots, but melanomas can also grow in existing moles. This is why it’s important to conduct regular self-exams. We want to detect potential skin cancer early on, so that it is more easily treatable. Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to the sun, and melanoma cancer can also run in families. Skin cancer is definitively diagnosed by a biopsy.
When performing self-exams, we advise you to look for:
- Existing moles that begin to change color, itch, or bleed
- Sores that repeatedly heal and re-open or scab
- Growing pink or shiny bumps
- Red crusting or growing lesions
- Any spot that bleeds without reason
Additionally, the American Academy of Dermatology developed the ABCDE guide for assessing whether or not a mole or other lesion may be becoming cancerous:
Asymmetry – half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape, or color.
Border – the edges of the mole are irregular.
Color – the mole is not generally the same color throughout.
Diameter – the mole is larger than one-quarter inch in size.
Evolution – the mole begins to change in shape, size or color.
The following simple lifestyle changes can help you reduce the chance of developing skin cancers and maintain a more youthful appearance:
- Use sunscreen on a daily basis
- Avoid sunlight during peak hours of UV radiation (from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM)
- Check your skin routinely for signs and symptoms of skin cancer
- When outside, wear protective clothing, such as long sleeve shirts, hats, and full length pants
- Stop smoking, as it lowers your body’s immune system
Request an annual skin check
DermPhysicians of New England perform skin exams, biopsies, and other skincare services. You can request an appointment in Burlington or Woburn, Massachusetts by calling us at (781) 272-7022 or by filling out the appointment request form below.