Skin Cancers

The Importance of a Full Body Skin Exam


Why Have a Full Body Skin Exam?

Many of you may be wondering what a full body skin exam involves or if you even need one. Well here are the facts. More than 1 million newly diagnosed skin cancers will be detected this year through annual skin exams. In fact, recent estimates show that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with a skin cancer during their lifetime. Basal cell and Squamous cell skin cancers are the most common and are often easily treated if detected early. Malignant melanomas, the more dangerous type of skin cancers, are also on the rise and estimates show that close to 1 out of every 60 people will be affected with this type of skin cancer.


Who Should Have a Full Body Skin Exam?

  • If you have a history of skin cancer, we recommend full body skin exams every six months. Individuals with a prior history of skin cancer are at increased risk for developing another skin cancer later in life.

  • History of a severe sunburn or blistering sunburns in the past.

  • Red hair, blue eyes and freckled individuals.

  • Family History of Melanoma. Anyone with a first degree family member (mom, dad, brother, sister) who was diagnosed with melanoma should have their skin checked annually.

  • Anyone with an occupation that involves being outdoors, especially living here in Texas.

  • A history of precancerous lesions/irregular moles such as actinic keratoses or dysplastic nevi.

  • History of using tanning beds or sunbathing.

  • Hobbies that involve being outdoors: golfing, swimming, boating, tennis.

  • An individual with many moles and or freckles.


Should Children Have Full Body Skin Exams?

If your child has any of the risk factors stated above such as a family member with melanoma or a history of using tanning beds or a severe sunburn, he or she should have their skin checked no matter their age. Unfortunately, malignant melanomas and atypical moles can affect anyone of any age. If you have a concern about a mole or freckle on your child, please make sure he or she gets checked by a dermatologist.


What is Involved in a Full Body Skin Exam?

For a full body skin exam, you will be asked to change into a gown. Dr. Powell will exam the skin of your face, ears, neck, chest, scalp, back, arms, legs, feet and even between the toes for any unusual or suspicious lesions. If any lesion needs to be checked or biopsied, it can be done on the same visit. In addition, a full body skin exam can be done on any of your follow up visits.



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