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How often should I get checked for skin cancer?

ANSWER

  • Experts disagree on this question. Some medical groups say you should only get a screening if you have suspicious moles or you have a high chance of getting melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Others recommend a yearly screening for people who are at high risk for skin cancer. A few things make you more likely to get it: Blond or red hair, light eye color, and skin that freckles or sunburns easily
  • People in your family have had melanoma
  • You’ve had unusual moles in the past
  • You’ve had sunburns before, especially any that blistered
  • You’ve used tanning beds
  • You have more than 50 moles or any that look irregular
  • You’ve had an organ transplant

SOURCES:

Bruce Robinson, MD, spokesperson, American Academy of Dermatology.

Skin Cancer Foundation: “Make the Most of Your Visit to the Dermatologist,” “Early Detection and Self Exams.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “What to expect at a SPOTme skin cancer screening.”

CDC: “Skin Cancer: What Screening Tests Are There?”

National Cancer Institute: “Skin Cancer Screening (PDQ).”

Journal of the American Medical Association : “Screening for Skin Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement.”

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: “Screening for Skin Cancer in Adults.”

MD Anderson Cancer Center: “Skin Cancer Screening Exams.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Screening Guidelines.”

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on March 31, 2019

SOURCES:

Bruce Robinson, MD, spokesperson, American Academy of Dermatology.

Skin Cancer Foundation: “Make the Most of Your Visit to the Dermatologist,” “Early Detection and Self Exams.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “What to expect at a SPOTme skin cancer screening.”

CDC: “Skin Cancer: What Screening Tests Are There?”

National Cancer Institute: “Skin Cancer Screening (PDQ).”

Journal of the American Medical Association : “Screening for Skin Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement.”

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: “Screening for Skin Cancer in Adults.”

MD Anderson Cancer Center: “Skin Cancer Screening Exams.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Screening Guidelines.”

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on March 31, 2019

NEXT QUESTION:

What conditions would make me need to see my dermatologist more often?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

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