What to Expect During an Annual Skin Cancer Screening

You should be getting a skin cancer screening every year for prevention and early detection. Here is what you can expect during your annual appointment.

Living in—or visiting—a warm and sunny climate means spending time outdoors soaking up the sun. Whether you love beach combing, playing pickleball, or catching a wave, a day in the sun comes with health benefits.

But it’s not all fun in the sun! 

Are you aware of the potential risks of skin cancer? It's a serious issue that affects people of all ages, and the best way to combat it is through early detection. That's why annual skin cancer screening with a dermatologist is essential.

Knowing what to expect during the screening will help you better prepare for your appointment. Reading this post will help you take control of your skin health and keep enjoying the sunshine with peace of mind. Let's dive in!

Skin Cancer Screening Prep

Before your skin cancer screening appointment with a dermatologist, it's important to prepare your skin. Your dermatologist will want to examine your skin in its natural state. So, avoid wearing any makeup, lotion or other skin products to your appointment.

Another way to prepare for the appointment is to take note of any moles, freckles, or skin tags that you're concerned about or that have changed recently. Make a list and bring it with you to your appointment so you can discuss these areas with your dermatologist. 

If you're unsure what to look for, here are some signs of potential skin issues:

  • New growth or sore that doesn't heal
  • Mole with changes in shape, size, or color
  • Patch of skin that looks pearly, waxy, or translucent
  • Bump or patch that itches, hurts, or bleeds
  • Scar with changes in appearance

It's a good idea to wear comfortable and easy-to-remove clothing to the appointment. Your dermatologist will want to examine your skin from head to toe.

Depending on the extent of your skin coverage and how many moles or areas of concern you have, the screening process may take some time, and you may need to undress completely.

What Happens During Your Cancer Screening?

During your skin cancer screening, the dermatologist looks for any abnormal growths, moles or lesions that could be cancerous. Here's what you can expect during the screening:

Reviewing Your Medical History

Before the screening begins, your dermatologist will review your medical history. They'll ask about past skin issues, exposure to the sun, tanning beds, and a family history of skin cancer.

The doctor will want to go over any other relevant information that may affect your skin's health. This review will give your dermatologist a better idea of what to look for during the physical examination.

During the medical history review, you should share any skin issues found during your pre-screening prep.

Physical Examination

Next, your dermatologist will do a physical examination of your skin, starting from your scalp and face and working down to your toes. Dermatologists have several tools they can use, including a dermatoscope to examine your skin. 

The point of the physical examination is to get a closer look at any moles, freckles, or other areas of concern. 

If You Need a Biopsy or Further Testing

If your dermatologist notices anything unusual during the physical examination, they may recommend a biopsy. They might recommend further testing.

A biopsy involves removing a small sample of suspicious tissue for testing in a laboratory. 

During a skin biopsy, the dermatologist will first clean and numb the sample area with a local anesthetic. Then, they’ll remove a small piece of skin tissue scalpel, punch tool or other instrument. After removing the sample, the doctor will usually cover the biopsy site with a bandage or dressing.

The sample goes to a laboratory for analysis.

Derm doctors use skin biopsies to diagnose skin conditions such as skin cancer, rashes, infections, and other skin disorders. By examining the tissue sample under a microscope, doctors can determine the presence of abnormal cells or other indicators of disease, which can help guide treatment decisions.

Although the idea of a biopsy can be intimidating, it's a simple and safe procedure with few risks. Your dermatologist can give you more information about what to expect during a skin biopsy. They can also talk to you about any necessary preparations or follow-up care.

Depending on the results of the biopsy, your dermatologist will discuss next steps with you, which may include treatment or further monitoring.

Recommendations for Prevention of Skin Cancer

During your skin cancer screening, most dermatologists offer skin cancer prevention tips. Some common skin cancer prevention strategies that your dermatologist may discuss during a cancer screening include:

  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Seek shade during peak hours
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Perform regular self-exams

Your dermatologist may recommend wearing clothing that covers your skin, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants. You'll want to consider wearing UV blocking clothing designed to give added sun protection.

Following the dermatologist's recommendation will help protect your skin from damage. It will also reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

BloqUV Believes in Protecting Skin

With the right knowledge and preventative measures, you can continue to enjoy the sun without worrying about the risks. 

So, make that skin cancer screening appointment, slip on that sun hat, and get ready to embrace the sunshine!

Don't forget to wear UV blocking clothing from BloqUV, your partner in protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

Our proprietary fabric blocks 98% of the sun's rays by providing another layer of skin protection. Shop our unique collection of protective clothing before your next sunny day!