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Ensure Early Detection with Regular Skin Cancer Self Exams and Full Skin Exams

Skin cancer should not be overlooked, it is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting 5 million individuals per year. And according to the CDC, more than 77,000 new cases of melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer – occur in the United States per year. This is why examinations are important to detect these conditions earlier, as prompt treatment can result in better outcomes.

Regular Self-Exams are a Must

Many doctors recommend performing a self-examination for skin cancer regularly, typically once a month. This is particularly important for those who are at higher risk such as people with reduced immunity, those who have experienced skin cancer before, and those with family histories of the condition. 

Skin self-exams should be done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror, with a hand-held mirror for areas that are hard to see such as one’s backside. A partner, family member or close friend can also assist with these exams. 

During a self-examination, one should meticulously go through the entire surface to familiarize with the patterns of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks on the skin in order to detect any changes in subsequent examinations. Concerning changes can then be pointed out to the doctor. 

During self-examinations, be on the lookout for common signs of skin cancer such as:

– New, expanding or changing growths, spots or bumps on the skin

– Sores that bleed or do not heal after several weeks

– Rough or scaly red patches that can crust or bleed

– Wart-like growths

– New moles or ones that are changing in size, shape or color

– Oddly shaped moles with irregular borders and different colors

If you notice something concerning, be sure to have it checked by a doctor. To schedule a consultation for skin cancer screening and possible treatment, feel free to reach out to Knott Street Dermatology in Portland, Oregon.

Suspecting Skin Cancer? Opt for a Full Skin Exam (FSE)

At Knott Street Dermatology, we specialize in the early detection and treatment of skin cancer. Our diagnostic processes include Full Skin Exams (FSEs), which are crucial for determining the presence of skin cancer and if treatment is necessary.

Full Skin Exams are the standard of care for detection of skin cancers in their early stages, especially melanoma which can be life threatening. FSEs are relatively quick and require no special equipment, although sometimes a dermatoscope is used to magnify skin lesions to assist the provider with detection of abnormal features. FSEs are used in all dermatology practices and are endorsed by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

A dermatology provider will ask questions about personal history of sun exposure, incidence of sunburn, as well as past skin issues and family history of melanoma. After the patient removes clothing and changes into a medical garment, the provider performs a thorough check of the entire surface of the skin (exposing only one body part at a time) from the scalp to the soles of the feet. Areas of concern can be documented with digital photography and then compared to photographs at a later exam to detect any changes in moles or other spots.


For more information about skin cancer screening and possible treatment, or to schedule a consultation, reach out to us. Knott Street Dermatology in Portland, Oregon also meets the needs of patients from nearby Lake Oswego, West Linn, Beaverton and Clackamas.

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