We’ve written before about the importance of protecting yourself from skin damage. Wearing sunscreen, choosing UV-protecting clothing, and staying out of the sun during peak hours will keep your skin as healthy as possible. Likewise, keeping track of moles–particularly those that are asymmetrical, multi-colored, and evolving–is a great technique to help prevent late melanoma diagnoses.
However, just because you do regular mole self-examinations doesn’t mean you should stop seeing your dermatologist. A study recently released by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center indicates that physicians are more likely to find malignant moles that patients overlook, and find them earlier, which means the patient has a better chance of survival. The study shows that physician-found melanomas were up to 40% thinner than their patient-found counterparts, owing largely to the fact that dermatologists are trained to recognize smaller changes and abnormalities.
Of course, the study’s results should not discourage patients from performing regular, detailed self-examinations. Rather, patients should prioritize regular visits to the dermatologists and use self-exams to identify any moles that look abnormal. If you do find a mole that looks irregular, contact your dermatologist immediately: early diagnosis and treatment prevent skin cancer from becoming invasive.
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