“You cannot take care of everyone else unless you take care of yourself first” is a phrase often repeated in my office. One thought for the holidays is to spend a couple minutes putting something on the books in January or February. This could vary from something as extreme as scheduling a weekend mediation or yoga retreat or as simple as scheduling a one hour massage.
I tend to delay or avoid any appointments for myself starting in the beginning of summer when my college age children arrive home. Teeth cleaning with my dentist, annual with my physician, eye exam and others just don’t fit in my schedule during the summer, the back to school fall/football season or the holidays. So I take a few minutes in December for myself by calling and scheduling those types of appointments for January, February and March. This year I will be scheduling with a dermatologist for my first overall skin check.
A full body skin examination with a dermatologist locating and noting atypical (dysplastic) moles takes about 10 minutes. The more moles, the longer the exam may take. Pointing out any moles, growths or lesions noted during self-exams is important. The dermatologist may biopsy (remove a layer of the skin for examination under a microscope) suspicious looking growths. The frequency of these checks varies between women depending on their personal risk factors.
A recent article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests increase monitoring for women in 2 categories: women who underwent natural menopause after the age of 54 and women who use HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to control menopausal symptoms. Since this was the first study to show a relationship between HRT use and BCC (basal cell carcinoma), I do have concerns about the particular patient population used- an occupational cohort that comprises of radiologic technicians. The authors of the study admit the “findings need to replicated in other cohorts before strong conclusions can be drawn”. Until that time, I agree users of HRT MAY constitute an additional high risk group in need of more frequent skin cancer screening.