What to Expect During a Full-Body Skin Cancer Screening

Sep 01, 2023

What to Expect During a Full-Body Skin Cancer Screening

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, every day, nearly 10,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer and about 50 people die from the disease. Regular full-body skin cancer screenings play a vital role in diagnosing skin cancer early, when treatment is simplest and most effective.

At Luminary Dermatology, our team performs comprehensive skin cancer screening and skin cancer treatment for patients in Arcadia, Miami, Bradenton, Homestead, Sarasota, Venice, Longboat Key, and Northport, Florida, and Midwest City, Oklahoma. If you’ve never had a full-body screening, here’s what to expect.

Skin cancer 101

Skin cancer happens when skin cells divide rapidly and uncontrollably. There are three primary types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma — the rarest and most deadly type of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is typically caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation — the kind of radiation that comes from the sun and from tanning beds. When absorbed into your skin, UV radiation alters cellular DNA, changing the way cells grow, divide, and age.

Prompt treatment is critical for preventing cancers from spreading. Most cancers can be treated surgically using tissue-sparing techniques to minimize scarring and tissue damage. The key to successful treatment is diagnosing skin cancers as early as possible — and that’s when an annual full-body screening can help.

What happens during a screening

Skin cancer can form anywhere on your body — even under your fingernails, between your toes, on your scalp, and in areas never exposed to the sun. A full-body skin cancer screening is just what the name implies: a brief but expert evaluation of your skin from head to toe.

To make sure your skin is easily visible:

  • Remove fingernail and toenail polish before your visit
  • Don’t wear makeup (or bring makeup remover pads with you)
  • Wear your hair loose

A screening is also the time to point out any moles or other lesions that have changed in shape, color, size, or texture, as well as any lesions that are itchy, painful, weeping, or flaking. 

Every member of our team is skilled in identifying skin cancer, as well as “precancers” — unusual or abnormal skin changes that may develop into cancer in the future. Although a full-body screening is thorough, it’s surprisingly quick, and the screening itself is completely painless.

Before your screening, you’ change into a gown to make visualization easier. The doctor will visually evaluate your skin, sometimes using a magnifying scope to evaluate individual lesions. If your screening reveals an unusual lesion, we may numb your skin and take a biopsy — a small tissue sample that’s evaluated under a microscope. Results typically take about a week, after which we discuss recommendations for treatment if any is needed.

Schedule your screening

Skin cancer screening takes just a few minutes, but it can yield a lot of peace of mind — and help you get necessary treatment as early as possible. To schedule your screening, book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Luminary Dermatology.