I've had a lot of sun damage and burns in the past. Should I see a dermatologist?

I've never had a skin cancer, but I've had a lot of sun damage and burns in the past. Should I see a dermatologist?

Long-term sun exposure is a strong risk factor for developing skin cancer. My general recommendation is that if you've had lots of sun exposure, even in the distant past, you should have your skin checked once a year by your regular doctor. If your doctor sees something concerning for a skin cancer, he or she can refer you to a dermatologist for further evaluation. This is particularly important around the age of 50, when many of the sun-related skin cancers begin to occur more frequently. Meanwhile, anyone with a first-degree relative – that is, a sibling, parent, or child – with a history of melanoma should have a thorough skin exam every year, whether by your primary care physician or a trained dermatologist. This should begin as early as possible, as the outcomes of melanomas are strongly affected by how early they are detected.

Published on 06/01/2010 | Last updated on 12/20/2016