‘I Have Very Pale Skin And Am VERY Worried About Deadly Melanoma: How Often Should I Be Screened?’

Published May 10, 2022

Sydney Schaefer

How Often Should You Be Screened for Skin Cancer?

  • It’s important to get screened for skin cancer every few years, but what about if you’re at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer?
  • Say, you have very pale skin and sunburn easily unless you wear a lot of sunscreen. Do you need to be screened by a doctor for skin cancer more than once a year?
  • Right now, the recommendation is that patients who are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer get screened at least once a year.

It’s important to get screened for skin cancer every few years, but what about if you’re at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer?

Say, you have very pale skin and sunburn easily unless you wear a lot of sunscreen. Do you need to be screened by a doctor for skin cancer more than once a year?

Right now, the recommendation is that patients who are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer get screened at least once a year.

Related: Am I at High Risk for Melanoma?

The U.S. Preventative Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, hasn’t updated its recommendations since 2016, but is currently updating its skin cancer screening guidelines.

However, according to a 2016 study conducted to outline potential skin cancer screen recommendations, adults who are 35 to 75 years old with one or more of the following risk factors should be screened for skin cancer with a full-body examination at least once a year:

  • Personal history of melanoma, history of melanoma in your family or family history suggestive of a hereditary predisposition to melanoma
  • Personal history of actinic keratosis (rough, scaly patch on the skin that develops from years of sun exposure)
  • Personal history of keratinocyte carcinoma (nonmelanoma skin cancer)
  • CDKN2A (or other high-penetrance gene) mutation carrier
  • If you’re immunocompromised
  • If you have light skin, blonde or red hair, lots of freckles or severely sun-damaged skin
  • If you have two or more atypical nevi (benign growth on the skin that is formed by a cluster of melanocytes)
  • History of blistering or peeling sunburns
  • History of using indoor tanning beds

In observation of Skin Cancer Awareness Month (May), we’re here to tell you the best ways to protect your skin from skin cancer.

How to Protect Your Skin From Skin Cancer

Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon and associate at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, previously told SurvivorNet that protecting your skin is easy with these simple steps:

Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Skin From Skin Cancer

  • Sun avoidance during peak hours: This means from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It doesn’t mean you should never go outside during the middle of the day, but make sure you’re protected when you go outdoors.
  • Cover your skin and eyes: Wearing a wide brim hat or sunglasses will protect your face, the top of your head, your ears and the delicate skin around your eyes.
  • Wear an SPF of 30 or higher: Plenty of facial moisturizers have SPF built into them. Dr. Engelman recommends reapplying every few hours, or after excessive sweating or swimming.
  • Get an annual skin check: If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary in between checks (like the signs outlined in this article), schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
  • No-go to tanning beds: Tanning beds can significantly increase your risk of developing melanoma. If you feel like you’re just too pale, Dr. Engelman recommends a sunless tanner.

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