People with skin cancer previously treated realize the need to monitor their own skin carefully and come in for skin examinations regularly. We recommend at minimum once per year. Many patients benefit from more frequent visits to their dermatology clinic. Catching a new skin cancer early is key to effective treatment!
If you have never had a skin cancer, do you need a baseline skin check-up? The answer may surprise you. Here are some factors to consider:
How many times did I get sunburned at a young age?
- Five or more sunburns in childhood or adolescence DOUBLES your lifetime risk of getting melanoma skin cancer
- ONE sunburn with blisters during childhood also doubles your lifetime risk of melanoma
- Multiple sunburns further increase skin damage over time. The more you burn even as an adult greatly increases the risk of skin cancer!
Have I ever used an indoor tanning bed?
- Tanning beds have been proven to increase the risk of ALL skin cancer types in multiple scientific studies
- Use of tanning beds before age 35 increase overall melanoma risk by 59% and this percentage increases with each subsequent use.
Do I have lots of moles?
- Some people have many dark moles because it runs in their family – this alone is a risk factor for developing melanoma
- Patients with even just 10 atypical type moles have a 10 times higher lifetime risk of melanoma
Have I noticed a new growth on the skin?
Does it look different from other moles on my body? Is it different in size, shape, or color? Do I have a skin growth of any color which crusts, scabs or bleeds occasionally?
- If the answer to ANY of the above questions is yes – get it checked! Patients can really be their own best advocates when it comes to early detection of skin cancer.
Remember – if in doubt, check it out!
Sources: skincancerfoundation.org, aad.org