Two tips for people who are about to have their first full-body examination at a skin cancer clinic

Posted on: 30 July 2019

If you have arranged to undergo a full-body examination at a skin cancer clinic, here are some tips to ensure that you are prepared for this important health check.

Prep your hair

This health check will involve the doctor examining your entire body for mole irregularities, including your scalp. To ensure that they can see these areas as clearly as possible (and, therefore, can spot any cancerous moles in these parts of your body), it's important to prep your hair beforehand.

For example, if you have curly, thick hair that gets matted very easily, you should spend some time untangling it an hour or two before the appointment at the clinic so that the doctor can part sections of it when they need to examine specific areas of your scalp. Likewise, if you usually have a very short buzz cut but have recently let it grow out a bit, it might be a good idea to get it shaved again just before your appointment, as this will make your scalp much more visible.

If you wear your hair in cornrows, you should undo these plaits the day before you go to the clinic, as the tightness of these plaits can make it impossible for the doctor to see the scalp directly underneath them. Due to the fact that this hairstyle can take quite a while to undo, you should do this a day or so before your appointment, rather than attempting to rush through this process whilst you are on your way to the clinic.

Finally, if you have a lot of very thick body hair, it might be sensible to trim this or shave it off. Whilst the doctor won't ask you to do this in preparation for your appointment, it could speed up the examination process and give you the best possible chance of having any suspicious moles in these areas detected and, if necessary, treated.

Point out any moles that are hidden under your tattoos or micro-bladed eyebrows

If you have moles that are hidden underneath some dark, coloured-in tattoos or your micro-bladed eyebrows, then you should alert the doctor to the presence of these moles when you get to the clinic. Because these moles are camouflaged by your tattoos or cosmetic brow enhancements, the doctor might find it harder to spot them. Pointing them out will ensure that they don't overlook them and that these moles are examined thoroughly, just like the moles on the other areas of your body. 

Whilst the colour of the ink on top of these moles might prevent the doctor from observing any unusual discolouration (which is one of the things that they look for when determining if a mole might be cancerous), they can still check each mole's diameter, texture and shape, and ask if you if it has been itchy or has bled recently, and then use this information to determine if any of these moles require further medical investigation.

Talk to the professionals at your local skin cancer clinic in order to learn more about getting ready for this important examination.