The new cases of skin cancer each year outnumber all other cancers combined. More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually, and that number has been increasing for several years. Whether you come to see us for a medical condition or cosmetic service, the mission at Central Dermatology Center is twofold. First, we educate you and your family about how to prevent skin cancer. Second, we help you learn to perform routine self-exams to detect signs of skin cancer as early as possible. To get started, visit us for a skin cancer screening in Chapel Hill, NC, or one of our other offices in the Raleigh-Durham area.
If you’ve noticed a suspicious growth or are interested in learning more about the prevention and early detection of skin cancer request a consultation online to meet with a member of our team. Or, call us at (919) 401-1994 to schedule an appointment.
Prevention – Have a Good Cover Story
Preventing skin cancer seems so simple. Protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, especially during the hours when UV radiation is at its peak. Avoid indoor tanning salons. However, in a culture that often equates tanned skin with a healthy lifestyle, covering up is easier said than done. Still, there are several common-sense steps to minimize your skin’s exposure that, if followed routinely, effectively lower your chances of getting skin cancer.
Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and protection from both UVA and UVB radiation. We offer our patients a useful graphic to inform them about different types of sunscreens and sunblocks. Generously apply sunscreen or sunblock and apply repeatedly during the day.
- Wear clothing to protect exposed skin. You can even include a laundry additive when washing clothes that provides protection from the sun’s rays.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
- Seek shade during midday.
Early Detection – Mapping a Healthy Future
Total body skin exams performed at home on a routine basis are one of the most effective methods of detecting skin cancer before symptoms appear. We suggest starting with an appointment with us, where we thoroughly document existing moles and lesions on your skin. High-risk patients (those diagnosed with atypical mole syndrome with a family history of melanoma, for example) may be seen every 4 months. A body map you can download is an excellent tool to keep track of the shape and size of any skin growth.
During a self-exam, you should look for:
- Red or darker colored flaky patches or nodules that you haven’t noticed before
- New firm, flesh-colored bumps
- Bleeding sores that don’t heal after 2 to 3 weeks
- Change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a freckle or mole (especially moles that are not symmetrical, have jagged borders, or have grown since your last self-exam)
Total Body Photography
Total body photography is an important part of our comprehensive treatment for high-risk patients – people who have numerous moles, light skin, or a family history of melanoma. It is very effective and not all dermatology practices offer this service. Specialized, digital photographs allow our physicians to zoom in on suspicious growths at their earliest stages. The most common indicators of cancerous moles are their shape and color. Therefore, high quality, total body photography is essential.