Skin cancer is on the rise, and that includes the most serious type of skin cancer; melanoma. In the United States alone, someone dies nearly every hour from melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This frightening statistic could easily be reduced with a simple procedure that can be done in your doctor’s office.
A regular skin cancer screening done in your doctor’s office could help detect unusual or changing moles so that diagnosis and treatment could be done as soon as possible. This screening will usually consist of a visual evaluation of the skin, including the scalp. If an unusual spot is detected, a biopsy can be done so that a pathologist can more closely examine a sample under the microscope to see if cancer cells are present. If the sample comes back malignant, treatment can begin right away, greatly increasing success and a positive prognosis. In fact, melanomas that are detected early have a five-year survival rate of 99%.
Skin cancer screening can be done annually at the doctor’s office, but you can also do your own screenings at home in between appointments. A monthly check of your skin will help you to keep an eye on moles that may change or develop anew. Since the back and the scalp are significant areas for skin cancer to develop, having a spouse or friend help with the screening is also a good idea. By performing a regular skin cancer screening at home and with your doctor, you can rest assured that any cancer that does develop will be treated quickly and effectively when it is found early.