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Skin Cancer Screening Exams

At this time, skin cancer screening is recommended only for adults at increased risk. That’s because they have a higher chance of getting the disease.

Being at increased risk doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get skin cancer. But, you may need to start regular screening exams. So if you do get cancer, your doctor finds it at its earliest stage. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.

Along with regular exams, practice awareness. This means you should be familiar with your skin. That way you’ll notice changes. Then, report them to your doctor without delay.

Promptly show your doctor any:

  • Suspicious skin area
  • Sore that doesn’t heal
  • Change in a mole or freckle

Get a full-body skin cancer screening exam every year if you identify with one or more of the groups below:

Inherited risks

  • Red hair and freckles albinism
  • More than 50 moles
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Genetic syndromes that make you sensitive to the sun

Environmental exposures

  • Too much sun exposure
  • Frequent trips to the tanning salon
  • One or more blistering sunburn(s)

Personal pre-cancerous conditions

  • Actinic keratosis
  • Dysplastic nevi (unusual moles)

Personal skin cancer history

  • Basal and squamous cell cancer

Prior treatment

  • Radiation treatment
  • Immuosuppressive treatment
  • Other cancer treatments that increase risk

Still unsure if skin cancer screening is right for you? Print and share MD Anderson’s skin cancer screening chart with your doctor.

Exams for those who have had melanoma

If you’ve had melanoma (a type of skin cancer), you need a different plan to check for cancer recurrence.

Print and share MD Anderson’s survivorship chart with your doctor. Your doctor can use this chart to develop a more tailored screening plan for you.

The screening plans on this page apply to people expected to live for at least 10 years. They’re not for people who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat skin cancer. Your doctor can help you decide if you should continue screening after age 75.

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Use our flowchart to determine cancer screening recommendations for patients. 

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center