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Skin Screenings: February 28, 2019

It’s the most common form of cancer. “I’ve removed skin cancer from people who are very fair and very dark. It doesn’t discriminate,” said Dr. Mary Pilcher, a dermatologist on the medical staff of Lee Health.

Many people don’t even realize they have skin cancer. “Skin cancer can be very insidious, and it hides,” she said, which is why she recommends regular skin screenings. “It is recommended since we are in Southwest Florida, to at least do a monthly self-skin exam. Look in the mirror intentionally. Check spots and use a hand mirror to look at your back, look at your buttocks, places you don’t normally see,” advised Dr. Pilcher.

If you’ve previously had skin cancer, having regular skin screenings with your doctor is important. “If you have any history of skin cancer or any family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, I do recommend a once a year checkup. The skin cancer screenings help people find if they do have a problem,” said Dr. Pilcher.

Keep an eye on spots that appear to be getting darker or bigger—anything greater than 6mm needs to be evaluated by your doctor. “Anything after 30 you shouldn’t be getting new spots. That includes things you think are pimples. A lot of skin cancers can initially appear to be like a bug bite or a pimple. If something is not gone after a month it needs to be checked,” she said.

If you’re spending time outside, make sure to keep your skin protected from the sun, with clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen with the right SPF. “If you’re going to be out use at least a 30 and reapply every one to two hours,” Dr. Pilcher said.

Regular skin screenings and learning your skin can help you notice any new or changing spots. All can help lower your risk for skin cancer.

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