Talk With Your Doctor
Whether you are seeing the doctor for your own check-up or you are taking your child to the pediatrician for a well-child visit, remember that this is a great time to ask your doctor about a variety of health concerns including skin cancer prevention and early detection.
Because check-ups are often packed with information, you should not assume that your doctor will bring up sun safety and skin cancer awareness. If you have questions about your own risk for skin cancer, how to detect skin cancer in the early, more treatable phases, or how to prevent skin cancer for you and/or your children, be prepared before you go to your appointment. Knowing what questions you want to ask ahead of time will help ensure that you can get them answered, even if the visit is limited on time.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your visit:
- Make a written list of the questions you want to ask before going to the appointment so you do not forget anything. Let the doctor know you have some questions at the beginning of the appointment and ask if it would be better to talk about them now or at the end. This way the doctor knows to allocate time for your questions. Some questions you might wish to ask include:
- What is my skin type?
- What is my risk for skin cancer?
- When is the right time to start using sunscreen on my baby?
- Could you do a thorough skin exam on me today as part of my physical? If not, could you refer me to a dermatologist that can?
- Do I have any moles or other skin lesions that I should keep an eye on?
- How do I perform a monthly skin self-exam?
- Where do skin cancers most often appear?
- You can also add a comment about your concerns on the form the doctor gives you to fill out while you are waiting to be seen. If you put it in writing when you first arrive you will not forget because of all the things going on during your visit.
- If you have specific concerns about your or your children's risk for skin cancer make sure you tell the doctor why you are concerned. The doctor will probably ask if there is a history of skin cancer in your family as a way of assessing your risk, so find out ahead of time if you do not already know.
- If there is a specific mole or lesion you are concerned about, know exactly where it is so you can quickly find it and show it to the doctor. The doctor will likely want to know if the mole or lesion has grown or otherwise changed appearance recently and how long it has been there. Again, being prepared with answers will help ensure that you have enough time to address your concerns.
- Fill in a body diagram with all of your moles and areas of concern or take photographs of these items and keep them on file. When you are getting ready to go to the doctor take it with you as a tool to aid in your discussion.
- If you have ever had a mole, lesion or other skin growth removed by a doctor, make sure you know the date of the procedure and the outcome (i.e., biopsy results).
Be ready to tell the doctor all of the things you are doing to protect yourself or your family from the sun's harmful rays and then ask your doctor if there is anything else you should be doing.