One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Though overexposure to UV radiation from sunlight is often the cause, anyone of any age or skin type can get cancer on any part of the body covered with skin, including the bottoms of the feet and inside the mouth. The condition results from abnormal growth of skin cells. The best thing you can do is to get the cancer diagnosed as early as possible, and an ideal way to do that is with a full-body skin check from the Chesterfield-based physicians at West County Dermatology.
Your risk of skin cancer increases if you take certain medications—including antibiotics and hormones—that increase the likelihood of your skin being damaged by overexposure to the sun. In addition, scars are vulnerable to developing cancerous cells.
Cancer of the skin has many symptoms, but all appear as abnormalities. From new moles and growths to bumps and lesions, knowing which skin imperfections are cancerous and which are benign can be very difficult. This means an annual full-body skin check is an important step in identifying cancer and curbing its further development.
Early detection of skin abnormalities and cancer is the key to a more effective and successful treatment. A full-body skin check by one of West County Dermatology’s board-certified dermatologists is a good preventative and proactive strategy that takes only 10 to 20 minutes. Children should have their first full body skin check at one year of age and every year thereafter. In addition, adults should conduct selfchecks monthly to look for changes, new moles, or growths. Taking up just minutes every year, a full body skin check is a convenient way to catch cancer before it has a chance to spread.
During your routine full body skin check, you will be asked to provide your history of sun and tanning bed exposure, your medication use, and your family’s history of skin cancer. Be sure to mention any changes in moles or areas of your skin, as this can more quickly point your doctor toward an abnormal growth. Your dermatologist will check your body literally from head to toe—from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet—so be sure to avoid wearing anything to your appointment that blocks visual access to your skin, such as nail polish, makeup, or having your hair pulled back or up.
Your doctor may use a dermatoscope, which is a lighted magnifying glass, to examine moles or suspicious areas more closely during the full body skin check. Your doctor may also take photographs of moles to serve as baseline comparisons for the future. Tell your doctor if you feel uncomfortable having any part of your body examined as part of the full body skin check.
While a one-time full body skin check is useful, scheduling an appointment each year can be lifesaving. Having multiple appointments with the same doctor will allow the physician to become familiar with your case, and evidence from previous years can be used to measure mole and spot growth more effectively than a single visit.
Whether you’ve noticed a strange new growth or want to start a new habit, scheduling a full body skin check with one of our dermatologists is an ideal step forward to long-term health.
*Results may vary per patient.