My new Detroit private practice dermatology office has been up and running for a month and a half now. Time certainly flies when you're having fun! Working in my hometown has been such a rewarding experience and I am so grateful for the support of the community, especially our patients who trust the Carter Snell Skin Center (CSSC) with their skin care needs. And one of my favorite forms of skin care are our wellness checks. Patients are asked to get into a gown and I check their skin from scalp to toe. What am I looking for? Moles that could be atypical or any spots concerning for skin cancer. If you are wondering if insurance pays for this. The answer is yes.
Since this short time of being open, I have diagnosed two non-melanoma skin cancers, both on the skin of African-American women. Thankfully, these tumors were confined only to the skin and very treatable. Let this serve as a reminder to us all that skin cancer does not discriminate. More often than not, they are curable, especially when caught early.
Therefore, I recommend that all adults have a full body skin examination performed every year. And just like the recommendation for monthly self examinations of the breasts or testes, dermatologists recommend monthly self exams of the skin. It is easiest to look at the skin from a top-down approach. That way you won't miss an inch, even the following sites:
This is a difficult spot for anyone to check on their own, especially with a full head of hair. Ask your barber or beautician if they can give your scalp a look over. Since most people often go to the same person, this person would have a better idea of any spots that are new or changing than you would.
Mouth & Lips
This site is especially important for those with a history of smoking. Look at the gums, behind the lips, inside the cheek, and at the roof and floor of the mouth. You'll likely get a gold star from your dentist as well.
Use a hand mirror to check your back if you live alone. A kind partner or roommate will do too. Then show your gratitude by doing the same for them in return.
Yes, skin cancers can occur around or under the nail. So, check all fingers and toes.
Palms, Soles, & Between the Toes
Lentiginous melanoma is a type of melanoma that is more common in persons of color and grows in areas that may or may not be exposed to the sun: palms, soles, under the nails, and inside of the mouth.
Another great location for the use of a hand mirror. This site is especially important for those who have used tanning beds and desired to be tan line free.
As soon as there is a new or changing spot of concern, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist immediately.