It is important that Castillo explains that there is a misconception that skin cancer occurs only in patients with the right skin that is incorrect. "That's why we sometimes see [darker-skinned] patients come in later, "he explains, and cancer at a later stage is always more difficult to treat." Skin cancer occurs in all breeds, so it is important for the public to see a board-certified dermatologist if a lesion has features of a skin cancer, which include rapid growth, bleeding, change [shape, size or color], do not heal, darken or [feeling] painful."
Of course, the biggest reason for regular skin examinations is that "catching skin cancer at an earlier stage generally improves the overall prognosis and outcome," Castillo says.
Joshua Zeichner, head of cosmetic and clinical research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City agrees: "When detected early, skin cancer can be completely removed," he says. "If found too late it can in some cases spread and be fatal."
So when should you book your first dermatologist at a dermatologist, and how often should you return? "There are no current guidelines that determine when to get a skin examination," explains Rebecca Hartman, a Boston dermatologist and instructor at Harvard Medical School. "I usually base my recommendations individually on the patient's risk factors and preferences."
The government's guidelines here are very shady – that is, there really are none. The general rule of thumb, according to the National Cancer Institute, is that regular skin checks are important for those who are either high-risk or have had skin cancer in the past.
What dermatologists are currently looking for in a dermatologist
If you notice anything on your skin that seems unusual, it is always wise to book an appointment with your dermatologist (to help, here is our visual guide to identifying warning signs of skin cancer).
Examples of this would include "lesions that change in color, bleeding, rapidly growing or painful," Castillo says. When it comes to these skin irregularities, dermatologists look for the ABCDE rule: asymmetry, border irregularities, color variations, diameter size and development or change over time.
"In addition to irregular moles, your dermatologist will do it [also] Evaluate your skin for non-melanoma skin cancer, "Zeichner explains." We are looking for mother of pearl, shiny, pink tubers that can be basal cell cancer or non-healing scabies that can be squamous cell cancer. "
Those with the highest risk of developing skin cancer include older individuals, those with light skin that burns easily, those with extensive sun exposure or indoor solar history, those who work outdoors or are outdoor athletes, and those who may have compromised the immune system, according to Hartman.
"It is usually a good idea to review once a year starting around 30 years if you fit this description," explains Omar Ibrahimi, a dermatologist in Stamford, Connecticut, who specializes in skin cancer. "If you have a family history of skin cancer, I also recommend once a year, [and] For those with a personal new history of skin cancer, it would be more frequent, at least twice a year. "
Skin screening apps can be helpful, but should not replace a personal study
Another thing to note here: The technology of ever-evolving development has also led to an increase in apps designed to scan the skin with the phone's camera, whether for dark spots and blemishes, or even early signs of skin cancer. In the case of skin cancer, however, this may be the case with buyers: A new study showed that such apps were not fully reliable in detecting all forms of skin cancer.