Annual dermatology visits to check for signs of skin cancer or other issues are a must.
An annual preventive care visit is covered by qualified health plans (see your Benefit Book for details). During your annual preventive care visit, your primary care physician (PCP) can check for signs of skin cancer.
Your PCP may recommend that you follow up with a dermatologist for more exams or tests. Be sure to go to an in-network specialist. If you need a referral from your PCP, ask your doctor to refer someone in your network.
You can use the Provider Finder® tool to confirm that the dermatologist is in network before your appointment.
Before the Exam
It will be helpful if you take a little time to prepare for your dermatology appointment. Here are some easy steps to take to get ready:
- Remove all nail polish from your fingernails and toenails.
- Perform a full-body skin self-exam.
- Note any new, changing, itching or bleeding moles, growths or other skin lesions (any abnormal change or damage to your skin). You live in your skin, and you know it best.
- Don’t forget the places you might not think to look, like your scalp and eyelids, in between toes, and the soles of your feet.
At the Exam
- If you’ve never had any atypical moles that are of concern, the exam itself takes about 10 minutes. Atypical moles are not cancerous, but they look suspicious and could be a risk factor for skin cancer.
- The more moles you have, the longer the exam will take.
- Be sure to point out any spots you noticed in your self-exam.
- If you aren’t sure how to do the self-exam, ask the dermatologist to show you.
- Finally, be sure to ask questions. From spellings of medical terms to ideas for further research, your doctor should have answers for you. You may want to take notes.
Mole Myths Busted
- Just because a mole is raised does not mean it is a cancer risk. Watch it for changes.
- A mole may make you crazy with itching, but that may only be because it’s rubbing against your clothes. Let the doctor know about it to be sure.
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation, 2011