We're happy to present this story from our friends at Allure:
Nonmelanoma skin cancers may be slowly decreasing, but melanoma is on the rise — and it's the most common cancer for my age group (25- to 29-year-olds). Since this is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I asked dermatologist Jeannette Graf, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, to demystify this important annual appointment. "Patients fear the unknown, or they cancel their appointment because they've been on vacation and they feel guilty about their tan. But before they know it, six months have gone by." Graf says there's nothing to fear. The appointment will be quick and painless — at least this time. Learn what really happens at a screening when you read more.
It only takes about 15 minutes. First, the doctor will ask you about both your family and personal skin history — whether anyone has had skin cancer, how often you're exposed to the sun, how many sunburns you've had, and of course, whether you've ever done any indoor tanning.
You will have to strip. Once you've undressed, the doctor will examine every inch of your skin with a magnifying glass, from your scalp to between your toes. If you're feeling self-conscious, remember that they've seen it all before and a few minutes of exposure means knowing the truth about your skin. "This is a great time for you to get familiar with your skin, too," says Graf.
No pinching, squeezing, or cutting. If you need anything removed, that will most likely happen at a later appointment. "If I see something suspicious, I'll ask you to come back so I can take a closer look," says Graf. That's when your doctor will schedule a mole removal or order a biopsy.
If you don't have a dermatologist, visit the American Academy of Dermatology's website to find out where you can get a free skin cancer screening in your city.