“Dr. Derm” Explains the Importance of Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Published on May 5, 2011

Updated on February 13, 2018

You might wonder how a dermatologist can save a life. The answer is simple: skin cancers – we find them, we treat them and we feel great about it! Your skin is your biggest organ; the organ that plays a vital role not just in your appearance, but on your immune system and your ability to maintain an ideal body temperature and metabolism.

What can you do to make the most out of your visit to a dermatologist? How can you save your skin? Thought you’d never ask!

First of all, avoid excess exposure to UV radiation. Even on a cloudy day there is UV radiation. Take charge of your skin and examine yourself regularly. Remember to wear sunscreen, hats and long-sleeved clothing when outside. Do not smoke!

So what should you be looking for? There are a few easy guidelines to help you.
Look at your skin closely – be proactive.

  • Any sore that does not heal, ulcerates or starts to grow can be suspicious for skin cancer.
  • Scaly rough spots can be actinic keratosis (pre cancers) and also need to be evaluated.
  • Moles that are asymmetric in their color, shape, borders or are growing fast can be worrisome.

If you are unsure, just ask your dermatologist! There is no substitute for a professional exam by a dermatologist and possible biopsies (sampling of the skin lesion for evaluation under a microscope) when suspicious.

Want to learn more about skin cancer prevention and early detection? Visit the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Save Your Skin page and don’t forget to see my video with Katherine Kennedy on How to Conduct a Self Exam for Skin Cancer. It can save your life and the lives of those you love.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Tanya Kormeili is a nationally recognized board certified dermatologist. She is presently a Clinical Instructor in Dermatology David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is an internationally recognized author. To learn more about Dr. Kormeili please visit her online at

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