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How often should I check my skin for cancer?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
As far as routine screening, there isn’t a set schedule. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that how regularly someone needs a formal physician skin exam really depends on one’s health history. People at a higher risk for melanoma (such as having a strong family history of melanoma or many atypical moles) would likely need an annual exam. The AAD offers free screenings for skin cancer with their SPOTme program. You can also ask your primary care doctor.
 
For self-screening, the AAD doesn’t give a specific time frame, but advises that you monitor your skin for any changes. I always advise everyone to keep an eye out for any new moles or skin changes. Regardless of any schedule you may be on for formal examination or screening, if you notice a change to a birthmark or mole, or any other skin change, you should schedule an evaluation with your doctor or dermatologist.       

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.