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House Calls with Dr. De La Flor
Dear Dr. De La Flor
I recently read in a health magazine that I need to do an annual skin check up.

Skin issues are important, given where we live
Skin issues are important, given where we live

21.03.2009 - Is it really necessary to do it that often? I dont think I have any problem with my skin.


Dear Joel,
Better than the word annual is the word individualised. I dont believe in annual check ups the same way I dont believe in the one size fits all mentality. Most hospitals love to run a lot of tests and check ups with only their bottom line being their concern. Sorry if Im too straightforward. 

The rule of thumb is common sense and a personalised attitude toward testing and check ups. Depending on age, sex, race, personal and family history I do recommend different time lines.

A skin exam by your G.P. is the first step. Make sure he/she teaches you what to look for. This entails a head-to-toe skin examination looking for unusual stuff. When I perform an exam I like to teach my patients the American Cancer Societys ABCD rule to evaluate skin changes.

A is for Asymmetry.  B is for Border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred. C is for colour. The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance. Changes in colour distribution, especially the spread of colour from the edge of a mole into the surrounding skin, also are an early sign of melanoma. D is for Diameter. Any growth of a mole should be of concern.

Once a month I offer a very inexpensive skin check up at a local Pharmacy. After that, you should be able to follow up on those skin areas or lesions (if any) that are of concern with your regular GP. Because of the area where we live, skin issues are very important, since melanoma and other injuries can become life-threatening and often we dont take them seriously enough. Melanoma accounts for about four per cent of skin cancer cases, but it causes most skin cancer deaths. Early detection and treatment can save lives.

Dr. De La Flor, G.P. is li­censed in medicine & gen­eral surgery.  He holds certificates in nutrition, medical exercise and hu­man performance from the University of Berkeley in California, the American Council on Exercise and the U.S. National Strength & Conditioning Association.  He is a strong believer in work/life balance and spends much of his time outside of his surgery on the tennis court or chasing his four kids around the neighborhood.

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Skin issues are important, given where we live 
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