The Importance of a Complete Skin Check and What to Expect

Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans is diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime? It’s the most common type of cancer affecting all races and genders, but the good news is that it’s also one of the most treatable.

Because it’s on the outside of your body, skin cancer is possibly the easiest type of cancer to identify — but that doesn’t mean you should rely on at-home skin checks alone. Getting regular skin cancer screenings at your dermatologist’s office is the best way to catch early warning signs of skin cancer and get the care you need to stay healthy.

Vicki Rapaport, MD, and our team at Rapaport Dermatology specialize in diagnosing and treating skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. We offer complete skin checks and are here to help you find ways to keep your skin healthy for years to come.

Why annual skin cancer checks are important

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends seeing a dermatologist for a complete skin check once a year. Getting an annual skin cancer screening is a good idea for everyone, but it’s particularly important for those of us living in sunny climates like Southern California.

Skin cancer develops with abnormal skin cell growth. Most types of skin cancer are caused by UV light exposure, which damages DNA in skin cells and makes them grow uncontrollably.

UV light from the sun is one of the most common causes of skin cancer, and areas of skin that are often exposed — like your face, arms, and shoulders — are common spots for cancer to develop. You can also get skin cancer from artificial UV light found in tanning beds.

Anyone can develop skin cancer, and it can form anywhere on the body. Your risk increases if you don’t use adequate sun protection or wear sunscreen every day. Getting an annual exam is the best way to stay on top of your health and identify any areas of concern early, before complications develop.

What happens at your skin cancer check

Our team of dermatologists is familiar with all the signs of skin cancer, and performs skin checks with a complete visual exam of your skin. 

Skin checks are painless and generally take about 10 minutes in the office, but there are a few things you can do to prepare for your appointment.

Start by performing a self-exam, taking time to look over your skin and make note of any moles or growths that have changed or show symptoms like itching or bleeding. Come to your appointment with clean, makeup-free skin.

You’ll need to take off your clothes and wear an exam gown for the skin check. You can generally leave your underwear on, unless you have an area of concern near your genitals that you want to have checked.

What we look for at skin cancer checks

Moles that grow or change in appearance may be melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Our expert dermatologists evaluate each mole on your skin using the “ABCDE” method. ABCDE stands for asymmetry, border irregularity, color, diameter, and evolution.

We also look for indications of other cancerous growths, which can include:

If any areas of concern are identified in your skin exam, we may recommend a biopsy. Our skin cancer specialists take a small sample of cells, which are tested for cancer. If you’re diagnosed with skin cancer, we use the latest surgical techniques to remove cancerous lesions and treat cancer cell growth.

Is it time for your annual skin check? Contact our office in Beverly Hills or Culver City, California. Call the location nearest you or request an appointment online today.

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