Skin Cancer Screenings

Complete Skin Exam

A complete skin exam, also referred to as a “skin cancer screening” is a visual exam of the skin. During the exam, your dermatologist checks

the skin for moles , birthmarks , or other marks that are unusual in color, size, shape, or texture. Certain unusual marks may be signs of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell cancers. These cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body and are usually curable with treatment. A third type of skin cancer is called melanoma . Melanoma is less common than the other two, but more dangerous because it's more likely to spread. Most skin cancer deaths are caused by melanoma.

A skin cancer screening can help find cancer in its earlier stages when it's easier to treat.

What are the benefits of a complete skin exam?

At least yearly, you should undergo a complete skin exam if you have certain risk factors. Risk factors for skin cancer include having:

  • Light skin tone
  • Blond or red hair
  • Light colored eyes (blue or green)
  • Skin that burns and/or freckles easily
  • History of sunburns
  • Family and/or personal history of skin cancer
  • Frequent exposure to the sun through work or leisure activities
  • Large number of moles

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the complete skin exam?

You should not wear makeup or nail polish. Be sure to wear your hair loose, so your provider can examine your scalp. There are no other special preparations needed.

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