The Total Body Exam for Early Detection of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Rates of skin cancer have been increasing every year over the last several decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though often caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds, anyone of any age or skin type can develop skin cancer anywhere on the body covered with skin, including the inside of the mouth and the bottoms of the feet.

The use of certain medications, such as hormones and antibiotics, also increase the risk your skin will be damaged by overexposure to UV radiation and will develop skin cancer.

Early detection of skin abnormalities and cancer is key to easier and more effective treatment. Adults should conduct monthly self-exams to look for changes in skin or moles and for growths or new moles. In addition, an annual total body exam by one of Zel Skin’s board-certified dermatologists is good preventive medicine. Children should have their first annual total body exam at age 1. The exam takes only 10 to 20-minutes.

What to Expect from Your Annual Total Body Exam

You will be asked to provide your history of sun and tanning bed exposure and medication use, along with the types of skin cancer any close relatives may have had. Be sure to mention any changes in moles or areas of your skin. Your dermatologist will check your body literally from head to toe—your scalp to the bottoms of your feet. Avoid wearing anything to your appointment that blocks access to your skin, such as nail polish, makeup, or a pulled-back hairstyle. To more closely examine moles or suspicious areas, your doctor may use a lighted magnifying glass called a dermatoscope. Your doctor may also take photographs of moles for use as baseline comparisons for the future. If you feel uncomfortable having any part of your body examined, please let your doctor know.


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*Results may vary per patient. Services vary by location.