When Should I Start Having Annual Skin Cancer Screenings?

Dec 09, 2022
When Should I Start Having Annual Skin Cancer Screenings?
Your skin is crucial to your health, so taking care of it is vital. Skin cancer screenings are necessary as you get older after years of UV exposure. Keep reading to discover when you should begin getting regular screenings for skin cancer.

You've spent years laying in the sun, soaking up the UV rays and getting a beautiful tan — but now you're more concerned about skin cancer than a stunning glow. Your skin takes on a lot over the years, which may put you at risk for skin cancer.

Dr. Camille Roberts and the team at The Dermatology Center of Worcester have experience with skin problems, including melanoma. If you're concerned about skin cancer, Dr. Roberts suggests annual screenings for peace of mind.

Signs of skin cancer

Your skin is unique, meaning you may have freckles or moles almost anywhere on your body. In most cases, these areas of hyperpigmentation are harmless and make your skin uniquely yours.

However, there are some cases where a mole changes, which could indicate a type of cancer called melanoma. When thinking of melanoma, you need to recall your ABCs.

When you have a mole or mark on your skin that changes, it's important to remember several letters, which include:


A is for asymmetrical. Suppose you have a mole or mark that looks irregular or has a jagged edge. In that case, you should get it evaluated by our team immediately.


B stands for the border around the mole or mark on your skin. A hallmark sign of melanoma is an irregularly shaped border that's not entirely smooth or round.


The C stands for the color of your mole. The color should be even throughout the mole, not varied or extremely dark.


The D is for the diameter of your mole. If your mole is more significant than a pea, our team should evaluate you for other signs of skin cancer.


E is for an evolving spot or mole. If your mole has changed significantly in the past few months, you could be showing signs of melanoma.

When do you need an annual screening?

You can get a skin cancer screening anytime; however, we recommend annual screenings in your late 20s or early 30s. You may need to start your screenings sooner if you have a history of skin cancer in your family.

Certain risk factors also require you to get screenings earlier on. Risk factors for skin cancer include the following:

  • Numerous moles
  • Light skin tone
  • Fair colored eyes
  • Tanning bed use
  • Red or blonde hair
  • History of bad sunburns
  • Easily burned skin

You're also at a higher risk of cancer if you're continuously in the sun without sunscreen or SPF protection. If you work outside in the sun, we advise you to get regular cancer screenings earlier.

What to expect at your appointment

At your appointment, we ask you to remove your clothing and get into a gown in the exam room. Once you're ready, Dr. Roberts comes into the room and asks you about any concerns with your skin.

She asks if you've experienced any severe sunburns or noticed changes in your skin or moles. After obtaining your history and other pertinent information, she performs a head-to-toe exam.

During the exam, Dr. Roberts looks at all marks and moles on your body — screening you for any signs of melanoma, including irregularly shaped or colored moles.

Dr. Roberts may use a unique magnifying tool to examine a specific mole or spot if she sees anything suspicious during the exam.

After she's finished, she discusses your results and the need for any follow-up testing. You can then leave and go about the rest of your day.

If you notice something odd on your skin or are due for an annual screening, call our office in Worcester, Massachusetts, at 508-452-2702 for a consultation today or request an appointment with Dr. Roberts on our website.

We offer Full body skin checks and offer treatment for acne, acne scars, and more. Call us to book your appointment today.