How Early Can a Routine Screening Detect Skin Cancer?
Everyone knows the best way to beat skin cancer (besides preventing it) is by detecting it early. The best way to achieve early detection is to go in for a routine screening. Yet, we often procrastinate, put screening on the back burner, and ask ourselves, is routine screening for skin cancer really that important?
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer both nationwide and globally. It is said that every 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. They also estimate that approximately 9,500 people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer every day. With staggering numbers like these, it’s safe to assume that the risk for developing skin cancer is extremely high.
Every morning, when we step out into the sun without sunscreen or sunblock or we climb into a tanning bed, we significantly increase our chances of getting skin cancer. Why? Because the UV rays that are emitted from the sun (or tanning bed) contains high levels of radiation. The radiation obliterates the electrons from within the atoms (a process known as ionizing) causing real damage to our DNA. This reaction is what can lead to skin cancer. Fortunately, the development of skin cancer can be easily seen on the top layers of our skin. It usually appears in forms of changes to moles and birthmarks or the growth of new ones, unusual growths (lumps), or even patches of scaly, brown skin.
These tell-tale signs of skin cancer make routine screening not only easy but extremely important. The skin exam consists of checking the body from head to toe, looking for any of the symptoms we previously mentioned. The routine examination will allow your doctor to immediately notice any questionable changes to your skin. If he or she suspects you have skin cancer, they’ll order a biopsy to either prove or deny their suspicions. If you do indeed have skin cancer, treatment can begin right away, thus increasing your chances of beating it.
So, how early does routine screening detect skin cancer? To be honest, “early detection” has no specific date or time. “Early” simply means that the cancer was found in enough time before it had a chance to do irreparable damage. This amount of time varies from person to person. Yet some factors may put individuals at greater risk like age, skin tone, and lifestyle. Early detection gives you the best possible chance to overcome skin cancer and that can only be done through routine screenings.
Believe it or not, you can actually give yourself a proper skin exam, however, physicians still recommend that you go to your healthcare provider and complete a professional screening annually. Nonetheless, if you do screen yourself and you notice any changes or growths in your skin, contact your physician immediately.
If you are in Cincinnati, Ohio, our experts at The Dermatology Group can take care of all of your skin cancer screening needs including giving advice and resources. Give us a call and book a consultation today!