Mayo Clinic Minute: Who should be screened for skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Each year, more than 6 million adults are treated for skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Collin Costello, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, says anyone can get skin cancer, but some people are at higher risk. So how often should you be screened?

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:05) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: “Mayo Clinic News Network.” Read the script.

A skin check by a dermatologist usually only takes a few minutes, but that short time spent in the doctor’s office could add years to your life if skin cancer is detected early.

“I think one of the big things with screening is, because there aren’t really rigorously set national guidelines, that we really look to risk factors to help guide who needs to be screened and how frequently,” says Dr. Costello.

Dr. Collin Costello checking man for skin cancer
Dr. Collin Costello checks for skin cancer

He says it’s important that everyone is familiar with their skin. And you should see a healthcare professional if you notice any changes, like suspicious moles or spots. But for anyone who is at higher risk, an annual skin exam by a dermatologist is a good idea.

“People with personal and family history of melanoma and then personal history of nonmelanoma skin cancers, people over the age of 65, particularly people that burn easily, you know, get sunburned easily as well as have light-colored eyes and light-colored hair — those are the people that are going to benefit the most from the skin cancer screening,” says Dr. Costello.

  • Mayo Clinic biostatisticians power every step of medical research
    Mayo Clinic Health System celebrates grand opening of Mankato hospital expansion and modernization