I'm writing this one partly as a reminder to myself to make an appointment and get in to see my dermatologist. I simply forgot last year's annual "mole check" and that was stupid. Skin cancer can spread to other organs and it's nothing to ignore.
1) May is Skin Cancer Detection/Prevention Month, so it's the perfect time to make an appointment to have your doctor check you over.
2) The exam should only take about 15 minutes.
3) Expect the doctor to ask you if there's a history of skin cancer in your family.
4) Try to remember: Did you burn a lot as a kid? Did you peel?
5) Do you wear sunscreen often? Do you now or have you ever fake-baked? (Tell the truth.)
6) You should take stock of your own moles before you go in, so you can answer when the doctor asks if any of have changed shape or color.
7) Yes, you'll have to get naked. Skin cancer can turn up anywhere from the top of your scalp to between your toes, and really doesn't care if it's location is embarrassing.
8) Remember to remove your nail polish, for skin cancer can begin to grow beneath a finger or toenail.
9) Expect to be examined with a magnifying glass.
10) But relax, because this is one exam that never hurts. If your doctor thinks something should come off, that will likely be done at a follow up appointment.
11) Most insurance companies will spring for the annual screening. That's because it's in their best interest. While skin cancer is on the rise, when it's caught early, it's one of the easiest cancers to cure.
12) While your GP can do this exam, it's recommended you have a dermatologist perform it.
13) If you don't have a dermatologist, visit the American Academy of Dermatology's website to find out where you can get a free skin-cancer screening in your city.