Full-Body Skin Exam
In addition to checking your own skin monthly, experts suggest that people at high risk of skin cancer – see below for examples of people at high risk – see a dermatologist at least annually for a full skin exam.
Who should get a full-body skin exam?
- a personal or family history of melanoma
- fair skin, red or blonde hair and light eyes,
- a history of sunburn/excessive UV radiation exposure,
- many or unusual moles, or a
- weakened immune system.
Note: Your dermatologist can help you assess your own individual risk factors to determine how often you should seek out a full-body skin exam.
Dermatologists are specially trained in the early detection of skin cancer, including melanoma. Many dermatologists will use a specialized device called a dermascope that combines a flashlight with a microscope to look at moles more closely. They may even take photos of moles to track them over time. If a dermatologist sees something suspicious, they will biopsy it for further evaluation.
Tips for your full-body skin exam:
- Make your appointments early: It can sometimes take some time to be fit into a schedule. Make your regular appointments early! If you think you may have melanoma – make this clear to the person who is scheduling the appointment. They may be able to see you sooner.
- Write questions down in advance, including the location of any moles that you have specific questions about: It’s easy to get overwhelmed or be swept up in the process. Write your questions down in advance so you don’t forget to ask.
- Don’t Be Modest: Skin cancer can be anywhere, so don’t let a few uncomfortable minutes stand between you and early detection. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor – look for another one!