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Is it a beauty mark? Or something else? Why you should schedule an annual body check.

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Cute freckles… Striking beauty marks… Some are iconic (think Cindy Crawford), some make you stand out in a crowd (think Julianne Moore). But how do you know when these marks on our skin are actually the sign of something more serious?

The truth is, you may not know the difference between a beauty mark and the mark of something that could be harming you – like melanoma. And with skin cancer now the most common form of cancer in the U.S., a staggering 1 in 5 are developing it during their lifetime. Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 percent, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2011.

Studies show that the risk factors for the three most common types of skin cancer include having at least one severe blistering sunburn, your amount of lifetime sun exposure, and tanning. In the U.S., skin cancer statistics increase where the sun is strong – at high elevations in the mountains and in the south.

That’s why no matter where you live, it’s important to get a full-body check once a year with a dermatologist, and to always check yourself from head to toe at home. As summer ends, now is a good a time as any to schedule an appointment.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT AN ANNUAL BODY CHECK

1. First, you’ll need to disrobe. But a gown will be provided for you.

2. The doctor will perform a complete visual examination of your skin from head-to-toe using a magnifier like the one in the picture. It’s pretty fast – about 5 minutes.

3. If he or she finds no suspicious moles or lesions during your exam, you’ll be done, and can schedule another exam for the following year.

4. If any suspicious lesions are found, the dermatologist will likely recommend a biopsy to get more info. They can often perform it right there in the office during the exam.

Easy, right? So there’s no reason to put it off. Do you get annual body checks? Or have you never had one before? Tell us in the comments.

 

Comments (4)

SpaGirlFL says:
Sep 1, 2011

I’ve never had one before, but it’s on my to-do list. I know it’s important. Thanks for the link on what to look for at home.

Teresa
Teresa says:
Sep 1, 2011

This topic is dear to my heart. Last year I noticed two moles on my body that had ‘changed’. One was larger, and the other one had changed color- (gotten darker). I had them checked by a dermatologist who biopsied them and recommended that they be removed immediately. Since I don’t tan, they probably resulted from sunburns I had as a kid. If I hand’t gotten these checked out, it could have been really serious! A year later, my scars are now tiny and flat, and I’m very careful to get checked out regularly.

JillE says:
Sep 1, 2011

this just scared me into making an appointment!

Lisa says:
Sep 7, 2011

It is so important to get this done, I have recommended clients to go and get unusual moles checked out to be safe. I also have had this done, it’s not nice, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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