It's estimated that one in five Americans are going to develop skin cancer before age 70, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports. Thus, having a skin check should be part of your annual preventive medical care. Your dedicated dermatologist has extensive training in detecting and treating skin cancer, so they can often find abnormalities that your primary care physician might overlook. To get the most out of your skin cancer screening, there are a few things you should do to prepare.
Read on to learn more about what to expect when you visit the dermatologist.
Check Yourself First
One of the best things you can do to get yourself ready for a skin cancer screening is to check your skin thoroughly. Look between your toes, use a mirror to look over your back, and check your genitals. This way, you can guide your dermatologist to any moles or growths that have abnormal edges, are changing in color, or are growing in size.
Be Prepared for Biopsies
If your doctor notices any moles or skin tissue that might be a cause for concern, they might biopsy the area. This procedure simply involves numbing up the treatment area with an injection. Your dermatologist carefully shaves off the worrisome skin and sends it off to the lab. Depending on the size of the abnormality, you might need a few stitches to help the incision site heal.
In most cases, you need to get into a gown during your dermatology visit. Because you're probably going to need to remove clothing, wear garments that are easy to get on and off, and that are loose-fitting in case you need a biopsy. You also won't want to spend extra time on your hairstyle the day of your appointment. After all, your dermatologist is going to thoroughly check your scalp for abnormal growths. It's equally as important to remove nail polish, including toenail polish, since some cancers develop in your nail beds.
Bring Your Health Records
Because your dermatologist is part of your overall medical team, keep them in the loop in regards to your health. If you have copies of your latest lab results or a report from your most recent physical, bring those documents to your exam with you. In some cases, elevated biomarkers in your blood could be linked to certain forms of skin cancer or other chronic diseases that your dermatologist can help diagnose and treat.