examAn annual visit to your dermatologist can help to detect skin cancer in its earliest stages and increase the likelihood for survival.  Statistics say that every hour in the United States someone dies from melanoma, an estimated 9,710 people by the end of the year. With statistics this alarming, it is crucial for patients to visit their dermatologist once a year to make sure that any freckles, moles, or other marks haven’t changed, as these changes can indicate skin cancer.

Summer sun and skin care can be enemies. Some everyday behaviors can contribute to risk factors associated with developing skin cancer.

  • A single sunburn resulting in blistering or peeling can double your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Use of tanning beds increases melanoma risk by 75%.
  • Not wearing sunscreen and spending more than 10 minutes in the sun increases the likelihood you will develop a sunburn.

Annual skin exams performed by a dermatologist can detect precancerous spots in areas that are difficult to examine on your own. Here’s a few tips for how to prepare for your skin exam and what to expect:

  • Remove nail polish from fingers and toes. It is possible for skin cancer to grow underneath nails or in the nail beds. Also, these areas are prone to skin infection, which is something else dermatologists check for during a skin exam.
  • Note any changes in birth marks, moles, or freckles that you have. You must be an advocate for your own skin, and let the dermatologist know of any areas that may have you worried.
  • Be prepared to undress completely. This is uncomfortable for many patients, but is a very important element in a thorough skin exam.
  • The exam should last roughly 15-20 minutes.
  • Your dermatologist will inquire about family history and skin cancer, what type of medications you are prescribed, your skin care regimen and sunscreen use, and your history with tanning beds and spray tans.
  • It is possible that if your doctor discovers any questionable spots or lesion on the skin, a biopsy will be taken. A biopsy is a sample of tissue that is sent to a lab and tested for cancer. Biopsies are taken under local anesthetic. This procedure is a diagnostic tool, not a treatment, and if cancer is discovered it will be removed at a separate appointment.

For more information on what to expect at a full skin examination, or cosmetic dermatology services offered at  Frederick Dermatology Associates contact us 301-662-6755 today and schedule a consultation . We look forward to serving you.