We get it – no one likes taking time out of their busy schedule to go see a doctor for an annual exam. But we also know that staying up to date with your yearly physicals, eye exams, and dental check-ups are an important part of preventive care and help to keep you feeling healthy and strong.
Your annual skin exam is no different. Skin cancer screenings and annual skin exams are just as important as any other routine health visit, yet most people tend to skip them.
As dermatology experts, our team at Plantation Dermatology wants you to stay informed and proactive in protecting your skin’s health. Led by Dr. Steven Barilla, an expert dermatologist in Plantation, we strive to help our community understand the importance of annual skin exams and skin cancer screenings as part of your yearly healthcare routine.
Here are our top 5 reasons NOT to skip your annual skin exam:
- Early Skin Cancer Detection Increases Survival Rates
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. With Florida ranked number 4 in the country for new skin cancer diagnoses in 2022, our communities have to be particularly vigilant about getting regular skin cancer screenings.
The most common types of skin cancer – Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma – have 99.9 percent 5-year survival rate when detected early and treated before it can spread to nearby lymph nodes. Survival rates decrease as cancer is allowed to spread, dropping to just 30 percent once it begins affecting further areas of the lymphatic system and other organs.
- Your Skin Directly Impacts Your Overall Health
With an annual skin exam, your dermatology provider may be able to spot subtle changes in the skin that can be an early sign of other underlying health conditions.
Dan Lebovits, a dermatology specialist at Plantation Dermatology with over 20 years of experience, reminds us of the correlation between the skin and your overall health:
“You really can see quite often that one symptom could be related to some systemic illness that the patient doesn’t even know is happening. With a simple test we can find out what it is, how to treat it, and advise if they need to see someone else to make sure that condition is managed before it becomes a problem.”
- Aging Skin Becomes More Sensitive to Environmental Damage
Aging skin loses some of its density, allowing UV rays to penetrate more deeply and potentially cause greater damage. This may not only speed up skin’s visible aging process, but also leave older patients more susceptible to skin cancer. Current research shows skin cancer incidents are increasing among older adults, particularly those over the age of 80. Those with a prior history of skin cancer are eight times more likely to develop it again later in life. They may require more frequent follow-ups to monitor for recurrence and ensure any new cancer is treated promptly and effectively.
- Believing Skin Health Myths Can Leave You Vulnerable
Younger people and people of color may be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of skipping skin exams. Prevailing myths around melanin’s ability to prevent skin cancer, or skin cancer being an ‘old people problem’ can have dangerous consequences.
Skin cancer may manifest differently in people with deeper skin tones. This often leads to later diagnosis and more challenges in skin cancer treatment. 21 percent of melanoma cases in African American patients are diagnosed when the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, while 16 percent are diagnosed when the cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes and other organs.
Likewise, younger patients may also face treatment challenges caused by ignoring early signs and symptoms as ‘no big deal.’ While skin cancer is more common among older populations, certain habits like using indoor tanning beds or not using sunscreen can increase your risks.
- Peace of Mind
Preventive care provides you and your family peace of mind regarding your health and well-being. An annual skin exam typically only takes a few minutes and goes a long way to ensure you know your skin health status and have a treatment plan in place should your dermatology specialist detect anything concerning. This is particularly important for families with a history of skin cancer or other skin conditions requiring specialty care.
At Plantation Dermatology, we pride ourselves on our patient-focused approach to medicine. As part of your healthcare team, we focus on you and your specific concerns, developing a personalized care regimen to give you relief, comfort, and peace of mind. Even if you aren’t currently experiencing any specific symptoms, we encourage you to schedule your annual skin exam today to help safeguard your health and future.