“I never used sunscreen when I was younger”, “That freckle has been there forever!”, “I didn’t realize I was able to have a yearly skin check with my insurance”.
These are comments from patients that we hear everyday in our clinic. Many patients may not know the benefits of skin screening, or what to look for when they do at home skin exams. The great majority of patients do not know that skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in adults in the United States today. Each year, over three million patients with be diagnosed with basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers and over 75,000 will be diagnosed with melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are rarely fatal, although they can result in significant problems if left untreated. It is estimated that over 10,000 patients in the United States will die from melanomas in 2016.
Everyday at Tareen Dermatology, we diagnose and treat all types of skin cancers. Each skin cancer can be treated in a variety of ways, and we have resources to treat you. It is important for everyone to have their yearly skin checks and also be aware of what to look for at home.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends full body skin exams for all adults over the age of 18, as well as for any younger patients who are at a higher risk for skin cancers. If you have a family history of melanoma, more than 50 moles on your body, or if you have had a significant amount of UV exposure you should be screened for skin cancers. During the full skin exam, your Provider will take a look at all of your skin from your scalp to the spaces in between your toes! If there are any lesions that look suspicious, they may recommend a biopsy. If you need a biopsy, the procedure is quick and easy as illustrated in this video. Biopsy results are usually provided to the patient within 14 days.
Between your in-office skin exams, it is important to also be checking your skin monthly to look for any changes. The ABCDE’s of melanoma provide a quick and easy guideline of “red flags” to look for with moles or freckles. Many patients will come in with concern about a freckle that is changing in appearance, or is suddenly painful, itchy or bleeding. If you notice that you have a lesion that matches any of the ABCDE’s, it is recommended to follow-up in clinic for a spot check.
Skin cancers can occur anywhere on the skin, and they can occur on all skin types and colors. In Minnesota we have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the country. It is important to protect your skin on a daily basis with SPF 30+ UV broad spectrum sunscreens, as well as visit your Dermatologist for a yearly check up.