Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Skin Cancer Screening

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 2 million people diagnosed every year. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest cancers to treat if diagnosed early.

Preventing Skin Cancer
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Self-Examination
Complete Skin Checkup

Preventing Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, and you can dramatically reduce your risk by taking some simple measures:

  • Limit your sun exposure and stay in the shade whenever possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Avoid tanning booths
  • Cover up with long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Apply a UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day
  • For extended outdoor activities, apply a water-resistant UVA/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating
  • Keep newborns out of the sun and use sunscreen on babies over six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month and see your physician once a year for a professional skin exam.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
It’s important to be aware of any risk factors you may have for developing skin cancer. Keep in mind that having one or more risk factors does not mean you will definitely get the disease, and having no risk factors does not mean you cannot develop it.

Studies have linked several factors to the risk for the most common types of skin cancer:

  • Personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Frequent or intense exposure to sunlight
  • Use of sunlamps or tanning booths
  • History of severe, blistering sunburns
  • Having fair skin that sunburns easily
  • Use of certain antibiotics, hormones or antidepressants

It’s important that both you and your physician are aware of any factors that could increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Self-Examination
Doing a head-to-toe self-examination once a month lets you detect any precancerous or cancerous lesions at an early stage.

Dermatologists recommend following the ABCDEs guidelines when self-examining moles. If a mole displays any of the signs listed below, have it checked immediately by a dermatologist.

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • Border: The border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
  • Color: The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red.
  • Diameter: The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil. 
  • Evolution: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color. 

 

Complete Skin Checkup
If you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, you’ll want to see a dermatologist once a year for a complete skin checkup. This usually takes about 10–15 minutes and includes a medical history review as well as a head-to-toe examination. Make sure to call your doctor’s attention to any irregular spots you may have noticed in your last monthly self-exam.

To learn more about skin cancer screening at the Methodist Cancer Center, please call us at 713-790-2700.

 

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