It is difficult to resist sun worshipping, especially after a long winter and rainy spring. However, with too much sun come opportunities for skin concerns. An annual appointment with a dermatologist is a good idea for all.

It is difficult to resist sun worshipping, especially after a long winter and rainy spring. However, with too much sun come opportunities for skin concerns. An annual appointment with a dermatologist is a good idea for all.

Physicians simply do all-over body checks to determine any issues and to establish a baseline so that changes can be evaluated annually. Both the Skin Cancer Foundation at skincancer.org and American Academy of Dermatology at aad.org offer a plethora of information regarding what to expect during an examimation.

AAD even provides a downloadable body mole map for self-examinations.
Primarily, physicians will look for the ABCDEs of skin cancer:
— A for asymmetry: One part of the shape is not like the other.
— B for border: Instead of being consistent, there are irregularities.
— C for color: Variations, including shades of tan, brown or black, or the hue is sometimes white, red or blue.
— D for diameter: Melanomas are typically at least 6 millimeters but can be much smaller.
— E for evolving: Moles and spots that look different from others or are changing.
Itching and bleeding spots or skin patches are obvious concerns as well.

Dermatologists assert that the earlier skin issues can be addressed, the better the success rate. At a dermatology appointment, expect the exam to take only 10 to 15 minutes, unless suspicious spots need to be frozen with a short burst of a procedure called cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy abnormal cells; or, an area may need to be biopsied — the scraping of a thin sliver of skin at the site. If suspicious spots need treatment, an appointment may require an additional 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the physician’s time restraints.

Any biopsies will be examined and tested by a pathologist, and results are usually communicated to a patient within a week. Reschedule the annual appointment before leaving the office. Those with personal or family histories of skin cancers or pre-cancerous spots should be especially diligent about annual checks.