Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. An annual skin cancer screening is an essential part of preventive care, especially if you have fair skin or a family history of skin cancer. Jessica Hausler, PA-C, has extensive experience in dermatology and performs full skin checks at the Center for Family Practice. If you have concerns about skin growths or moles, or you'd like to schedule a skin check for any reason, call the Latham, New York, office today, or make an appointment online.
A skin check is a type of health screening in which your medical provider examines all of your skin, over your entire body. Your provider looks at the areas of skin that are frequently exposed to the sun, like your face, back, and arms. They also check less visible areas, such as between your toes, the soles of your feet, and your scalp.
During your skin exam, your provider looks for any moles that exhibit signs of skin cancer. These are known as the "ABCDE" signs, which include:
- Asymmetric shape
- Border irregularity
- Color (differing shades of brown or black)
- Diameter larger than ¼ inch
- Evolving (moles that change over time)
Your provider also looks for the thick, scaly, or crusty skin that is associated with actinic keratosis. This is a precancerous condition that can develop into skin cancer.
You may want to schedule a skin check if you have moles that concern you, especially if your moles show any of the ABCDE signs. Early detection allows skin cancer to be treated in the earliest possible stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
Regular skin checks are essential if you have an increased risk of skin cancer. Risk factors include:
- Fair skin or skin that burns easily
- A history of excessive sun or UV exposure
- A family history of skin cancer
- Having more than 50 moles
If you've previously had any form of skin cancer, your provider will schedule you for more frequent skin checks to monitor you for any new signs of the disease.
A skin check can detect signs of skin cancer, but the disease can only be diagnosed through a biopsy. If your provider finds a potentially cancerous mole, they collect a tissue sample by first applying a topical numbing gel and then using a sterile instrument to scrape off some of the mole to send to a lab. This procedure is fast and virtually painless.
If your biopsy shows that you have basal or squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, or another type of skin cancer, your provider discusses treatment options. When detected early, skin cancer treatment is highly successful.
If you're concerned about skin cancer, don't wait to schedule a skin check at the Center for Family Practice. Call the office today, or make an appointment online.