Regular Skin Examinations by Your Doctor
A skin examination by your doctor involves a thorough and systematic examination of all areas of the skin to see if any moles or lesions are suspicious for melanoma. You will also be checked for other spots and moles that may be related to skin cancer.
To help you and your doctor stay alert to any changes in your moles or lesions, your doctor may also take photographs or measurements of selected areas of the body or of the total body. This photograph or measurement is then used as a reference for follow-up examinations. This approach is particularly useful if you have numerous pigmented moles or lesions. At many medical centers, you can have pictures taken of your entire body.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular cancer-related checkups, including a skin exam every 3 years if you’re 20 to 40 years of age and every year for people 40 and older.
What Happens at a Skin Cancer Examination
- When contacting your doctor to arrange a total body skin examination, you should request an appropriate amount of time for the appointment with the scheduler.
- At the time of arrival, when placed in the room, and when first greeting the doctor, you should make your desire for a total body skin examination known, including a request for a gown if one is not provided.
- During a skin cancer checkup or “screening,” your doctor will probably discuss your medical history and inspect your skin from head to toe-even areas that don’t get any sun. If your doctor performs only a waist-up exam, inform him/her that you would like a complete skin exam.
- Your doctor will record the location, size, and color of any moles.
- If a mole looks unusual, he/she may arrange for a biopsy.