Skin Exams

Skin Cancer Screenings

Southern Dermatology offers full body skin cancer screenings. Screenings are the first line of defense against melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the three most common types of skin cancer. We strongly urge patients to come in for an examination as soon as possible if they notice certain warning signs.

As with all types of cancer, early screening and treatment is crucial. Given enough time, skin cancer can become metastatic and enter the bloodstream. From there, the cancer can spread to other organs and systems, potentially turning deadly. The sooner a cancer is detected, the less danger it poses.

Self-Examination and Moles

Skin cancers appear most frequently on the face, neck and arms, but can potentially develop on any area of the body. We recommend doing basic self-examinations every one to two months. When you get out of the shower, take a good look at your body in the mirror from top to bottom, paying close attention to anything that has changed or looks abnormal.

Visible moles can sometimes indicate a cancer, but not always. There is an easy way to remember what to look for; we call it “the ABCDE” of melanoma.

Asymmetrical. Do you notice any moles where one side looks very different than the other side?

Borders. Make sure that the border of the mole is crisp and not blurry.

Color. While color of a mole can vary from person to person, brown moles are more typical. If you have a mole that is a different color than other moles, such as black or reddish-brown, we recommend having the mole examined.

Diameter. Cancerous moles tend to be larger. As a guideline, we recommend having a mole examined if it is larger than six millimeters in diameter.

Evolution. Noncancerous moles rarely change in size or shape. If a mole changes over time in any way, we recommend having it examined.

Other Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Moles are not the only symptom of skin cancer. A superficial wound that does not heal, or that takes an abnormally long time to heal, can sometimes serve as a sign of skin cancer. If a cut or scratch has not fully healed after two to three months, we recommend a skin cancer screening. Also, if a sore or wound starts to bleed for no apparent reason (without any injury and without picking at it), cancer may be present.

What to Expect at a Skin Cancer Screening

A skin cancer screening is fairly straightforward. We start out by discussing the patient’s family and medical history. During the physical examination, we ask each patient to undress to their comfort level (typically down to the underwear). We examine as much skin as possible, beginning with the scalp, all the way to the soles of the feet, looking for any sign of abnormality or anything that should not be there.

Skin cancer is common and usually treatable if it caught early enough. If you have noticed anything abnormal developing on your skin, come in for an examination.

Call us today at 919-782-2152 to schedule your appointment.

Videos

Dr. Briley – Skin Exam

Risks of not being examined

Purpose of a skin exam

Self-Examinations

What to expect during a skin exam