Melanoma is the 3rd most common form of skin cancer, but it is the most dangerous. If ignored, it can spread and pose serious danger, but if caught early, the patient may need nothing more than an outpatient or in-office surgery and follow-ups. Nearly 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and it is critical to diagnose this cancer early. Here is a list of six important skin check signs to ensure that skin cancer is diagnose early.
1. Visit an Experienced Dermatologist
A dermatologist with focused expertise and experience in skin care can identify the earliest signs of skin cancer. It is not enough to visit a general physician or receive annually physical from a sparkling internist. Studies have shown that dermatologists are typically in a better position to diagnose skin cancers early. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) revealed that dermatologists correctly identified suspicious spots 94 percent of the time, compared to 71 percent in the case of general practitioners.
2. Do not Ignore Skin Check of Private Parts
Surveys indicate that 68 percent of skin checks omit private parts. Skin exams can be inconsistent because there is no official protocol for a skin cancer check in place. Experts say that it is relatively less common to get skin cancer in private parts, but melanomas still do occur in the pubic region and the buttocks.
3. The Scalp is an Important Area
Nearly one in three healthcare experts skips the scalp when checking for signs of skin cancer. Less than six percent of the melanomas may occur in the scalp, but it can spell serious trouble if it does. People with melanoma of the scalp or the neck have a much higher likelihood of dying from it compared to those who have it on their limbs, according to an Archives of Dermatology study.
4. Thorough Check of Sun-exposure History
Two in five skin cancer exams do not factor in the patient’s sun-exposure history. A detailed background check must be a vital part of any skin exam. Patient can provide critical information such as severe sunburns received as a child, use of tanning-bed, or family history of skin cancer. This information puts the dermatologist in a better position to determine the level of risk and the need for follow-ups.
5. A Detailed Foot Exam is a Must
A real foot exam is a key part of a thorough skin cancer check, but as many as 32 percent of all medical professionals ignore it. The bottom of the feet, along with nail beds and palms, is where acral lentiginous melanoma is most likely to appear. This cancer is disproportionately more common among women of color. Health experts have also expressed serious concerns about women potentially obtaining squamous cell carcinoma from popular gel-based manicures, which involve exposure to ultraviolet light.
6. Being Aware of the Next Steps
While a dermatologist is in a strong position as an expert to spot the signs of skin cancer, but people can surely help themselves too. According a study from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, more than half of patients with melanoma noticed their own cancerous moles first. Taking immediate action by visiting a dermatologist in such cases can possibly save the life of that person.