How Often Should I See a Dermatologist for Skin Cancer?

The sun’s rays are beneficial to your health; when you’re in the sun, your body makes Vitamin D, essential to good health. Sunlight may also increase the hormone serotonin, which can boost your mood. 

But sun exposure also has a downside. Sunlight is the major source for skin cancer, which is the most prevalent type of cancer worldwide. One in five Americans is diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. 

At Seacoast Dermatology, our team of expert board-certified dermatologists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners makes it their mission is to ensure your skin health. Our practice is the recipient of numerous patient and peer awards. We check you from head to toe to see if you have any suspicious areas on your skin, and we test and treat you promptly if we find skin cancer.

Types of skin cancer

Skin cancer is a group of abnormal skin cells. It’s classified as one of three types. 

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma lies within your basal cells — cells that make new skin cells as the old ones die. It’s the most common type of skin cancer. It usually presents as a bump on your skin or a sore that closes but then opens again. 

Squamous cell carcinoma

The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It usually shows up as a rough, scaly patch of red or brown skin. Although present on the outer layers of your skin, it can spread to your tissues, lymph nodes, and bones if untreated. 

Melanoma

Melanoma is the third type of skin cancer. It begins in the cells that make melanin, the pigment that produces a suntan. It can begin in unexpected places, including your eye and any area of your body with tissues that contain pigment. A common sign of melanoma is a new mole or a change in the appearance of a mole you already have. 

Melanoma isn’t as common as the other two types of skin cancer, but it’s more likely to spread to other areas in your body. If untreated, it can be fatal. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had five or more bad sunburns.

The good news? You can take steps to prevent skin cancer. And if you do get it, it’s treatable and curable when caught in the early stages

How often should I be checked for skin cancer? 

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a checkup with a board-certified dermatology provider every year. If you have certain risk factors such as a personal or family history of skin cancer, you should be checked more often. Skin cancer can appear where you can’t easily see it: 

 

What are the risk factors for skin cancer?

There are several risk factors for skin cancer. Here are the most common ones:

Fair skin

If you’re a redhead or simply have fair skin, you’re at increased risk of not only sunburn, but also skin cancer. Even if you tan, you can still get skin cancer.

Sunburns

Besides causing skin damage that makes your skin tough and leathery, sunburns are the major cause of all types of skin cancer. Damage from the sun’s rays accumulates over time, which can lead to mutations in your skin cells that cause them to become cancerous.  

Tanning 

Most basal and squamous cell carcinomas and many melanomas are caused by indoor and outdoor tanning. Skip tanning beds to stay safe. 

Many moles and asymmetrical moles

Having many moles and asymmetrical moles places you at increased risk for melanoma. Your genetics gave you the moles. Be proactive and see us at Seacoast Dermatology to catch any abnormalities early. 

I feel fine, so why do I need to be checked for skin cancer? 

Skin cancer often doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort, so you’re lulled into a false sense of security. If you notice any change in your skin, it’s time to make an appointment with us at Seacoast Dermatology to ensure your health. 

Call or book an appointment online today with one of our four New Hampshire locations: Portsmouth, Dover, Exeter, and Newmarket.

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