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Can Regular Skin Cancer Prevention Check-Ups Detect Early Signs of Melanoma?

At Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA, we proudly offer a wide range of services, including skin cancer prevention check-ups. People often think that cancer is a disease of the elderly, but anyone can develop skin cancer. Today, we’re diving into the benefits of skin cancer screenings, how often they should be scheduled, and more.

Can Regular Skin Cancer Prevention Check-Ups Detect Early Signs of Melanoma?

Regular skin cancer prevention check-ups can detect early signs of melanoma. This type of skin cancer is highly treatable when it is diagnosed during its first three stages. Research shows that there is a five-year survival rate exceeding 98%. However, if melanoma is not detected until stage 4, the five-year survival rate drops to a mere 22%.

What Are the Early Signs of Melanoma?

One of the most common early signs of melanoma is the appearance of a mole changing. A mole that changes is known as an atypical mole. Another very common sign that you have melanoma is developing a new skin growth that is pigmented or looks odd.

What Are the Signs of Atypical Moles?

There are five signs of atypical moles that you should look out for. The first sign is the shape of the mole. Normal moles are symmetrical, so you should take note of moles that are asymmetrical. You may have melanoma or another type of skin cancer. You should also note moles that have odd color patterns or change in color. Usually, moles are brown, black, tan, or pink.

Another sign of an atypical mole is a mole that is unusually large or changes in size. You should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if your mole is over a quarter inch in diameter or it gets bigger over time. It is also atypical for moles to have scalloped or notched borders. Finally, you should keep an eye out for new symptoms. If you start to notice bleeding or itchiness, you may have melanoma.

Where Does Melanoma Occur?

Melanoma can occur anywhere. It is most likely to develop in places that experience prolonged sun exposure, like the ears, scalp, arms, and legs. However, you can also develop melanoma in areas that do not get as much sun exposure, like the palms of your hands, the beds of your fingernails, and the soles of your feet.

Can Every Instance of Melanoma Be Seen?

Some instances of melanoma cannot be seen. For example, you may develop ocular melanoma, a hidden melanoma that develops in your uvea. This melanoma can lead to vision changes, and it may be diagnosed during a routine comprehensive eye exam. It is also possible to develop melanoma inside your body. This type of melanoma is called mucosal melanoma because it develops in your mucous membranes.

Women may develop mucosal melanoma in their vagina. Men and women alike can develop this type of cancer in other mucous membranes. For instance, you can develop mucosal melanoma in your:

  • Anus
  • Esophagus
  • Urinary tract
  • Nose
  • Mouth

 

How Should I Prepare for My Skin Cancer Screening?

Before your skin cancer screening, you should write down every symptom you are experiencing, even if you don’t think it is related to melanoma. You also should write down any recent changes that have occurred in your life and significant stresses. Furthermore, it is important to note every pharmaceutical you take, including the dose and frequency.

It is also advisable to write down questions to ask during your appointment. For instance, you may want to inquire about what further testing is required or what treatment option is best for you if you have melanoma.

How Often Should You Get Skin Cancer Prevention Check-Ups?

Most people can benefit the most from getting annual skin cancer screenings. However, you should come in for more frequent check-ups if you have a high risk of developing skin cancer.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Melanoma?

One of the most significant risk factors for developing melanoma is having a family history of the disease. Therefore, you should come in more than once per year for check-ups if you have a sibling, child, or parent who has had melanoma. Your risk of melanoma is also much higher if you have ever suffered from a severe sunburn. Furthermore, exposure to UV light increases the chance that you will develop melanoma.

Additionally, you should come in for more frequent skin cancer prevention check-ups if you have atypical moles or over 50 moles. Moreover, you have a higher risk of developing melanoma if you sunburn easily. While anyone can develop melanoma, it is most likely for people with freckles, light eyes, and red or blonde hair. Also, you are more likely to develop melanoma if you have a weakened immune system.

What Can I Do To Reduce My Chance of Getting Melanoma?

One of the most effective steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing melanoma is to limit UV exposure. You should not use tanning beds or tanning lamps, and you should stay indoors as much as possible between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. During the middle of the day, the sun emits the most UV radiation. When you can’t stay indoors, you should wear protective clothing, UV-protective sunglasses, and sunscreen.

You should also check your skin for changes monthly. If you have moles, birthmarks, freckles, or bumps, familiarize yourself with them so you can tell if they change. If you notice skin changes, it is important to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible. We can determine if there is cancer present.

Schedule Your Skin Cancer Screening Today

Melanoma has a five-year survival rate exceeding 98% when it is detected in stages 0, 1, or 2. If it is not caught until stage 4, there is a 78% mortality rate. Regular skin cancer prevention check-ups can detect melanoma in its earliest stages so you can get treated quickly and effectively. To schedule a skin cancer screening, contact us today at Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA.

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