When you come in for your skin cancer screening, you’ll receive an inspection of your skin by Dr. Schultz or his female partner, Debora Heslin PA., in a comfortable, private exam room. There won’t be any pain or needles! It’s quick and easy and takes about 10 minutes. You should start having these screenings done as early as your teen years. At that younger age, Dr. Schultz says, “you would receive a baseline exam so we know what normal moles you have. And in case they do change, we have a reference point for what they used to be.” The other great part of these screenings is that if you have no abnormal spots, moles or bumps, you’re told that immediately and don’t have to wait for results.
You may be feeling apprehensive about getting a skin cancer screening examination. As easy and effortless as a screening exam is, many people still put off these kinds of appointments because they are afraid of hearing bad results. But here’s the good news: if your results do come back abnormal, this is the easiest kind of cancer to cure if diagnosed and treated early. When Dr. Schultz examines your skin, he won’t just detect existing skin cancer (if there is any to be found), but he’ll be looking for precancerous moles and growths. Precancerous just means there is a higher likelihood of the benign growth or mole developing into cancer later on. If he finds those, they can be removed at this very early and harmless stage, thus getting ahead of what could be a much bigger problem down the line. In addition, he’ll be able to document what moles do exist on your skin so if they do change in the future, we’ll have a better way of tracking any changes and knowing if they should be removed.
If Dr. Schultz finds any precancerous or abnormal benign moles during your visit, he will give you the option to have him remove them at that time or if more convenient, at a subsequent visit. There’s no urgency to make a choice and the privilege of deciding how and when to remove any abnormalities is of course up to you. If he finds a cancerous growth, he will recommend removing it at that visit so it’s removed as soon as possible, and so you won’t have to anxiety over it waiting for a future visit. Once the abnormal growth is removed, it will be sent to a lab for testing and your results will be given to you in about four to five working days.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. That’s about 9,500 people being diagnosed with skin cancer every day. If these numbers seem high to you, that’s because they’ve actually been increasing over the years. Melanoma rates have doubled in the United States from 1982 to 2011. Although instances of all skin cancer are growing, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas (two of the more common forms of skin cancer) and even melanoma are highly curable if detected and treated early . That’s why your yearly skin cancer screening is essential to keeping your skin, and your whole body, healthy.
If you have no irregular or abnormal growths or moles, then you only need to come in for a skin cancer screening once a year. Dr. Schultz says, “It’ll be easy for your screening to stay on your radar by making the appointment during the month of your birthday.” If you end up having any precancerous growths, Dr. Schultz suggests coming in twice a year. And if you have a history of any type of skin cancer, he says four times a year is the best skin cancer screening schedule for you.
While you’re in between your annual appointments, it’s a great idea to do at-home examinations to keep a check on your skin’s health. Dr. Schultz suggests that once a month, on the date of your birthday (so it’s again easy to remember!), you should do a complete examination. He says undressing and using a hand mirror is the easiest way to do a full body examination on yourself. You’re looking for any changes in moles that you can see. You can also ask your haircutter or stylist to check your scalp for anything that looks abnormal for those hard-to-see spots! The good news about these kinds of at-home examinations is that they’re incredibly effective. In fact, about half of melanomas are actually self-detected. Dr. Schultz explains, “If you can see a change, it’s what we call a gross change, not a subtle change. And that’s when you should tell your doctor. Remember: see something, say something.”
Dr. Schultz uses the ABCDE rule and encourages his patients to do the same when they’re performing their monthly self-examinations at home. This rule is an easy way to remember what you’re looking for and to note any changes you see. A stands for asymmetry. All normal moles should have an axis of symmetry. “In other words,” Dr. Schultz explains, “if you folded the mole in half, it would be the mirror image of itself on both sides.” B stands for border. Your moles should have regular and smooth borders without any notches or divots. C stands for color. Your moles should not be black or more than one color. D stands for diameter. Make sure when you’re checking your moles that they are no larger than a pencil eraser — about four to five millimeters in diameter. And finally, E stands for evolution. If you see any changes in your moles over time, tell your doctor right away.
The American Academy of Dermatology encourages everyone, of every skin tone, to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. UV light is the most preventable risk factor for developing all skin cancers. Seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen are all easy ways to help lower the risk of developing skin cancer from that UV light. Dr. Schultz suggests using a sunscreen with an SPF between 15 - 50, with UVA and UVB protection. Additionally, he recommends that you need to be consistently reapplying sunscreen every couple of hours that you’re outdoors. And, although Dr. Schultz will never tell you to not go out into the sun, he will most definitely tell you to not use tanning beds or sun lamps! These sources of artificial UV radiation are just as harmful to your skin as those coming from the sun. In fact, the Center for Disease Control quotes a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information as showing an upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year have been attributed to indoor tanning beds. So steer clear.
Because Dr. Schultz and the team have an incredible breadth of experience and his practice is committed to performing thorough examinations, we often are able to detect abnormalities earlier than other offices who just haven’t done as many exams as we have done. We do thousands of examinations every year and these screenings make up about 25 percent of our practice.
It takes time and lots of experience to do the effective measurements and thorough documentations we take pride in. We’re aggressive in removing things that look abnormal or precancerous because your skin is the only organ in your body where you can make a huge impact on whether or not you get cancer. All you have to do is show up for your exam and as long as your doctor does the same kind of exam we do here, most skin cancers can be either prevented by being picked up early in the precancerous stage or in the earliest stage of cancer if it has already transformed into a skin cancer.
Dr. Schultz says, “I will never tell patients to not go into the sun. Instead, I teach them how to protect themselves in the sun by using effective sunscreen and how to use it effectively, and to stay on schedule with their screening exams so they can enjoy a healthy, vibrant life.”
When you come in for your appointment, other than doing your own monthly checks at home, there’s nothing for you to prepare. Your full body examination performed by Dr. Schultz or his female partner (your choice, of course) will be done promptly in a professional setting and should only take about ten minutes. If you have anything abnormal to remove, it may be removed during the appointment and you should get your results back from the lab in four to five days. It’s as simple as that and after your appointment you can go right back to life!
A skin cancer screening is an inspection of the skin for abnormalities—thisRead More
The screening itself only takes about 10 minutes.
We recommend beginning as early as your teen years in order toRead More
Dr. Schultz or his female partner, Debora Heslin PA, are available toRead More
Yearly examinations are recommended. If you have precancerous growths, Dr. Schultz suggestsRead More
Make your skin care a priority with leading-dermatologist and New York Magazine’s “Top Doctor”: Dr. Neal Schultz.