Skin cancer checks and treatments were among the top five most requested procedures from patients when dermatology practices reopened following COVID-19 lockdowns.
Anthony Rossi, M.D.
Member, Board of Directors, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
Skin cancer does not discriminate and can affect any ethnicity, gender, or age. One in 5 Americans will develop some type of skin cancer in their lifetime, but with early detection and treatment, most skin cancers are completely curable. Sun-safe behaviors can also help prevent certain skin cancers.
With access to medical care affected during the pandemic, many patients had to defer seeing their dermatologist. In fact, the ASDS Pandemic Impact Survey revealed that 83% of responders’ patients experienced delays in skin checks for early detection or skin cancer follow-up care, and 70% observed that the skin cancers they assessed and treated following reopening were larger or more aggressive by the time the patient was examined.
Prioritizing skin health self-exams
It is critical now more than ever to thoroughly examine your skin monthly and document any changes, such as moles increasing in size, changing colors, or forming asymmetrically. Frequently, patients will detect their own skin cancer by bringing it to their dermatologist’s attention. Learn how to perform self-exams and what to look for in the free sun-safety toolkit at asds.net/sun-safety. It includes a step-by-step guide and FAQ, the dos and don’ts of sun protection, information on skin cancer prevention, and links to other resources.
Although skin cancer is increasingly prevalent, you can implement sun-safe behaviors such as avoiding peak sun hours, wearing sun-protective clothing, reducing sun exposure, and making sunscreen use part of your daily routine. As a bonus, these new habits will help prevent early signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, pigmentation problems, and dull skin texture. Sun damage compounds the aging process because the sun’s ultraviolet light penetrates all the layers of skin, including those that fortify it and lend it resilience.
Dermatologists provide official diagnoses
Your dermatologist can customize a prevention plan that will work best for you during your annual full-body skin check. It’s important to be seen by a board-certified dermatologist who is uniquely trained and experienced in conditions involving the skin, hair, and nails. Annual screenings are helpful in identifying skin cancer in its early stages. Some forms of skin cancer can be mistaken for harmless freckles or moles and may not be recognized without proper medical training. Consult with a board-certified dermatologist to ensure your comprehensive evaluation and treatment recommendations are coming from a qualified physician (find one near you at asds.net/find). Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions about anything unusual found during your exam. Discuss your diagnosis, treatment options, and next steps.
Fortunately, skin cancer checks and treatments were among the top five most requested procedures from patients when dermatology practices reopened following COVID-19 lockdowns. If you haven’t scheduled yours yet, consider this your reminder!