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Why You Should Have an Annual Skin Check

An annual skin check is a medical must to make sure that funny spot on your body is nothing to worry about, or to see if it is or could become skin cancer. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer in their lifetime, mostly basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Drs. Ritchie Rosso Jr. and Robert Chappell Jr. don’t want you to worry about those suspicious bumps, moles, or funny spots on your body. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and a perfect time to contact our skilled dermatologists here at Chappell Rosso Dermatology and The Laser & Aesthetic Center. Here’s how they detect skin abnormalities that could cause you health problems.

How do I prepare for a skin check?

Before your appointment, get to know the skin on the front, back, top, and bottom of your body. Grab a hand mirror and go stand in front of a full-length mirror, looking for any moles or growths that are new, have changed in size or color, or are itchy or bleeding. Point out to your dermatologist any areas of concern.

What happens during a skin check?

During the exam, you undress completely and put on a medical exam gown. Then, your doctor inspects every square inch of your body, from your scalp to your feet, even between your toes and buttocks cheeks. The exam takes about 10 minutes, maybe a little more if he finds any moles or spots that look suspicious.

Your dermatologist is looking for the ABCDEs of each mole, an evaluation tool that can signal existing or soon-to-be cancers.

Your dermatologist also checks for actinic keratosis, skin damage caused by sun exposure, which could become cancer if not treated.

The doctor or an assistant jots down his observations, an annual record that helps him compare changes in moles over time.

What happens after the skin check?

Your annual skin check only identifies moles and spots that may be cancerous. Only a biopsy can determine if the suspicious area is cancer or precancer.

During a biopsy, the doctor numbs the area then scrapes off the top of the mole, which should be painless. He sends the sample to a laboratory, where a pathologist looks for cancer cells under a microscope.

If the biopsy proves positive for skin cancer, your doctor calls you to discuss possible treatments. A standard treatment for basal and squamous cell carcinomas is Mohs surgery, which Drs. Rosso and Chappell specialize in.

During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancerous skin are progressively removed and examined under a microscope until only healthy, cancer-free tissue remains.

Is once a year enough?

For most patients, an annual skin screening is sufficient. But if you’ve had skin cancer, your dermatologist may want to see you every six months or, if you’ve had melanoma, every three months.

When it comes to skin cancer, early detection is vital. Give Chappell Rosso Dermatology and The Laser & Aesthetic Center a call to schedule your annual skin check, or book your appointment online.

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