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What to expect at a skin cancer screening

What is a skin cancer screening?

A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin by a medical professional. No blood work is conducted at a screening.

Why are skin cancer screenings necessary?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States; in fact, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. People of all colors and races can get skin cancer. There are many different types of skin cancer, including actinic keratoses (AK), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. BCC and SCC are the most common forms of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most deadly. With early detection and proper treatment, the cure rate for BCC and SCC is about 95 percent. When melanoma is detected before it spreads, it also has a high cure rate. Regular self-skin exams and regular examinations by a dermatologist help people find early skin cancers.

Is the skin cancer screening free of charge?

Yes. Dermatologists volunteer their time and expertise to provide skin cancer screenings as a free service through the American Academy of Dermatology.

Who will provide the skin cancer screening?

Skin cancer screenings are made possible by American Academy of Dermatology members; board-certified dermatologists committed to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage and reducing incidence of the disease by raising awareness of effective skin cancer prevention techniques.

How long with the screening take?

Screenings take approximately 10 minutes, including completing the paperwork and getting your skin checked.

Which areas of my body will be screened for skin cancer?

If the screening is in a private setting, a full-body screening can be provided if you desire. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends full-body examinations whenever possible. If the screening is in a public setting with limited privacy, only exposed areas (face, neck, arms, hands, etc.) will be visually inspected for skin cancer.

Will the screening take the place of my regular exam with my dermatologist or physician?

This is a rapid screening for skin cancer and should not replace or be a substitute for a regular examination with your physician or dermatologist.

Can I ask the medical personnel to look at my skin for other dermatologic conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, etc.?

Free skin cancer screenings are for skin cancer only. Seek advice from your regular dermatologist for other dermatologic concerns. If you do not have a dermatologist, you can locate one in your area by using the Academy's Find a Dermatologist tool or by calling the American Academy of Dermatology toll-free at (888) 462-DERM.

Why do I have to complete the form?

The Registration and Report Personal Health Information (PHI) form is used to record your screening with both the volunteer medical personnel and the American Academy of Dermatology. The document also gives you a record of the screening details and should be used for follow-up treatment with your dermatologist if a suspicious lesion is found. The information provided at the bottom of the form communicates your rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your signature is required to demonstrate your acknowledgement of these rights.

How will the Academy use my personal information?

The American Academy of Dermatology's Skin Cancer Screening Program is committed to maintaining the highest level of confidentiality regarding participants’ information that we collect, use, maintain, and disclose. Participant information is used and disclosed only for the Program’s mission-related activities and operations, and in other limited circumstances such as when required for law enforcement or for public health activities. Read the Academy’s complete Statement of Privacy to learn more.

What if I don't have health insurance?

Have you just had a free skin cancer screening and been told that you have a spot on your skin that could be skin cancer? If you do not have health insurance, you can still get medical care. Find out how to follow up after a skin cancer screening if you do not have insurance.

Last updated: 12/15/22