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  • Scripps Health

When should I get a skin cancer screening?

People at high risk for skin cancer should have regular skin exams

Skin cancer is an ongoing health problem in the United States. More than two people die of skin cancer in the US every hour. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.

While skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is also one of the easiest to treat when detected early.

“This means being familiar with your skin and knowing the warning signs of skin cancer, especially if you are at higher risk of skin cancer,” says Benjamin Kelley, MD, a dermatologist at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center and Scripps Clinic.

When to schedule a skin cancer screening?

Skin cancer screenings are recommended for adults at increased risk. They may be done by a primary care physician or a dermatologist.

“Being at increased risk doesn’t mean you’ll get skin cancer, but you may need to start regular screenings in case you do get skin cancer and it can be caught early,” Dr. Kelley says.

The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma makes up only 2 percent of cancers, but it is the deadliest.

Who is at risk for skin cancer?

Skin cancer can affect anyone, but some people are at higher risk.

Doctors recommend getting an annual skin cancer screening if you are in a high-risk category. Risk factors include:

  • Red or blond hair, fair skin, freckles and blue or light-colored eyes