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Skin Cancer Screening at Cooper Clinic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reports that one in five adults will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. That should be powerful enough to have an annual screening and that’s why it’s is a vital component to the Cooper Clinic Comprehensive Exam. Read about the first four (of six) components to get caught up!

  1. Medical Exam & Counseling
  2. Laboratory Analysis
  3. Cardiovascular Screening
  4. Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
  5. Skin Cancer Screening
  6. Nutrition Consultation

While beauty is more than skin deep, we must not neglect our skin—the body’s largest organ. Our skin provides an important barrier and immune protection plus hydration and vitamin-producing functions. A skin cancer screening identifies potential problems before they affect your health. Our board-certified dermatologists perform a meticulous screening for cancers, pre-cancers and atypical moles. With the physician you will also discuss information regarding your past sun exposure, sun protection measures and family history of skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are many different types of skin cancer: actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell are the most common forms of skin cancer and if caught early and treated successfully, the cure rate is about 95 percent.

Melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer. According to the CDC, in 2010, 61,061 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin and 9,154 people died from it.

You are at higher risk for developing melanoma if you have been a frequent user of tanning beds, have a family history of melanoma, have atypical moles or lots of typical moles.

When melanoma is detected before it spreads, it also has a high cure rate. As is the case with most cancers, patients who have melanoma detected at an earlier stage have improved survival.

Melanomas can occur anywhere on the skin surface but are frequently located on the back and other areas that may be easy to miss with self-inspection. Screening examination of the total skin surface can increase the likelihood of detecting melanoma six-fold compared with partial examination. That is why a head to toe (and between the toes!) examination is very important. Did you know that melanoma can develop in the eye? When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Symptoms of Melanoma
The most important warning sign for melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape or color. The ABCDE rule is a guide for self-examination. Between your annual exams, be aware of the symptoms and contact your physician if you find a spot with any of the following features:

A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.

C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

The AAD recommends that persons at highest risk perform frequent self-examination and seek professional evaluation of the skin at least once per year. Cooper Clinic board-certified dermatologists Dr. Rick Wilson, Dr. Flora Kim and Dr. Helen Kaporis can help you protect the health of your skin with preventive dermatology services.

To learn more about a preventive exam at Cooper Clinic, click here or call 866.906.2667 (COOP). Stay tuned for the last component of the exam, nutrition consultation.

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