Disease Prevention in Men - Skin Cancer Screenings

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Melanoma and other skin cancers

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer

Tests or procedures for melanoma and other skin cancers

  • Total body skin examination

Who to test and how often

The American Cancer Society recommends a skin check every 3 years between the ages of 20 and 40, and a skin check annually over age 40.

Adults with higher than normal risk for melanoma should be particularly vigilant to include individuals who:

  • have a family history of melanoma;
  • are middle-aged adults with frequent sun exposure;
  • have a history of serious or frequent sunburn (childhood sunburn is particularly risky);
  • have more than 50 moles; and
  • have fair skin.

See a doctor if the mole has the following characteristics:

  • diameter more than 6mm;
  • asymmetric (meaning an uneven shape);
  • irregular border; and
  • variable color pattern, meaning many colors or unusual colors, such as blue or black.

Benefits of early detection

Skin cancer is the most common cancer. Even though the benefit of skin cancer screening is uncertain (so far research has not shown that death from skin cancer can be decreased after a regular screening program is instituted), early treatment of skin cancer can be effective. Melanomas may be detected at a thinner stage with regular skin exams. Thinner melanomas are more successfully treated than are thick ones that have grown downward into the deeper portions of the skin.

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