At SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care, Dr Shainhouse recommends that patients schedule an annual full body skin exam (or mole check) to screen for skin cancer. In Los Angeles, where we are lucky to have sunny, warm weather year-round, we are also exposed to strong UV rays year-round. This increases our risk for premature skin aging and for developing sun damage and skin cancers.
Full body skin screening involves examining the entire body from head to toe. Moles are evaluated, as well as other skin lesions and signs of UV-related damage. Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers often present as bleeding sores or persistently scaly spots that do not heal. Melanoma can present as a new or changing pigmented lesion. In the office, a hand-held device called a dermatoscope is used to examine each lesion up close.
At home, perform regular self-exams, noting non-healing sores and brown/black spots that have (A) Asymmetry, (B) irregular Borders, (C) mixed or changing Colors, (D) Diameter >0.6cm and (E) Evolution or noticeable changes. These lesions could require a skin biopsy.