Getting a skin cancer diagnosis can be scary, but that's why preventive screenings are so important. Here's what you can expect from your preventive skin cancer screening.
If you're at a higher risk for certain types of skin cancer, your doctor may recommend a preventive screening. The recommendation may be a result of multiple factors in your medical history. For example, if you have more than 50 moles, a history of intense sun exposure, a family history of melanoma, or you've had one or more blistering sunburns, your doctor will likely recommend regular preventive skin cancer screenings. In addition, certain physical features may make you more likely to develop skin cancer. If you have light hair, light skin, and light eyes, for example, you may be at a higher risk for certain types of skin cancer.
In many cases, preventive skin cancer screenings don't take much longer than 10 minutes or so. When you arrive, you'll be asked to take off your clothes and put on a medical exam gown. First, your doctor will ask you about any moles or spots that concern you. Make sure you're honest with your doctor about this. The best way to detect early signs of skin cancer is to alert your doctor to anything unusual. That way, the exam can focus on areas you've already identified first.
Skin cancer knows no boundaries. It can turn up in places you might not have thought about, which is why a preventive skin cancer screening is so comprehensive. During your exam, your doctor will examine every inch of your body. This includes your scalp, between your toes, and even the soles of your feet. It may seem a bit excessive at first, but detecting signs of skin cancer as early as possible-- no matter where they might be-- is incredibly important when it comes to ensuring effective treatment.
While your doctor is performing the exam, they'll be looking for certain characteristics. This is particularly true of the moles on your body. When your doctor is examining these moles, they'll be looking for:
Asymmetry - Non-symmetrical shapes
Border irregularity - Ragged or blurred edges
Color - Different shades of tan, brown, and black
Diameter - Wider than one-fourth inch
Evolving - Changing over time
These are all important characteristics to keep an eye out for. Evolving moles are one of the many reasons that regular skin cancer screenings are so important.
While a visual screening is helpful, it can only tell you which moles on your body might have cancer. The only way to determine with certainty that a mole is cancerous is with a biopsy. In this test, your doctor will scrape off a section of the suspected mole. You'll receive a numbing injection before the sample is removed. Then the sample will be sent to a lab for testing. If the biopsy results reveal cancerous cells, it will then be time to determine which skin cancer treatment will be most effective.
Preventive screenings are effective at identifying early signs of skin cancer. If you have questions or want to set up a skin cancer screening, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.