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Who Should Have Skin Cancer Screening, and How Often?

Who Should Have Skin Cancer Screening, and How Often?

Let’s face it: the sun feels good on your face. There’s a reason people go outside in nice weather, and sunlight is an important part of the process that supplies your body with vitamin D. 

However, too much of a good thing sometimes has consequences, and in the case of sunlight, it comes in the form of ultraviolet (UV) light. The UV radiation you receive from the sun causes damage to your cells, disrupting the DNA within and causing changes that may lead to skin cancer

An ear, nose, and throat specialist might not be the first physician you think of for cancer screening, but the head and neck specialists at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates can help you detect problems before they lead to disfiguring tumors. 

Your chances for successful skin cancer treatment improve with early detection. 

So, who should have skin cancer screening, and how often should they have it? The answer depends on your cancer risk factors, including features of your lifestyle. 

Who should receive skin cancer screening? 

Even though skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, screening recommendations can be confusing. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) states that there’s not enough research evidence favoring or opposing visual skin examinations for cancer. 

However, this recommendation applies only to adolescents and adults who have no signs or symptoms of skin cancer. This puts the onus on you to recognize or suspect signs of skin cancer activity. 

Since not everyone has the knowledge or resources to make such a self-assessment, the USPSTF position could lead some into a dangerous false sense of safety about their cancer risk. 

The importance of risk factors

You can have no signs of active cancer even while cancers and precancers are forming. One example is a skin condition called actinic keratosis. While actinic keratosis isn’t cancerous, some instances can turn into squamous cell skin cancer. 

Understanding your skin cancer risk factors helps you to know when to increase your diligence about self-checks and in-office skin cancer screening. Some of the most common skin cancer risk factors include: 

Yet another factor: How many moles do you have? The average person has between 10 and 40 moles by the time they reach adulthood, and those who have substantially more moles may be more likely to develop skin cancer

Other issues, such as exposure to radiation or substances like arsenic, can also elevate your skin cancer risk. 

How often should I screen if I’m at risk?

Performing self-exams monthly is a great place to start if you don’t have a reason to expect active skin cancer. If you have any suspicions or questions, book an examination with us immediately. 

We’ll help you more accurately assess your skin cancer risk as well as taking tissue biopsies, if they become necessary. Work directly with our physicians to develop a cancer screening schedule that’s right for you. 

Call or click to book your visit with Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence or Ottawa today. 

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