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What to Expect During a Skin Cancer Screening

June 8, 2022 by VitalSkin Dermatology

dermatologist examining skin looking for signs of skin cancer

If you’re scheduled for a skin cancer screening, you may be wondering what to expect. A screening is a routine examination of your skin for signs of cancer. The dermatologist will look for any abnormalities in the color, shape and size of your skin cells. Any suspicious lesions will be biopsied for further examination. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.

Why Do I Need a Skin Cancer Screening?

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer affects more people than all other types of cancer combined.

There are many different types of skin cancer, and each type can present differently. That’s why it’s so important to see a dermatologist for routine skin cancer screenings. During a skin cancer screening, a dermatologist will examine your skin for any suspicious spots or growths.

If anything is found, a biopsy may be performed to confirm whether or not it is cancerous. Skin cancer screenings are quick and easy, and they could save your life. So if you haven’t had one in a while, make an appointment with a dermatologist today.

How to Prepare Before the Exam

When preparing for a skin cancer exam, you don’t need to do anything special. Just make sure you have time for the exam, and that you know how to get to the office. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to write them down so you can remember to ask them during the exam.

What Does a Dermatologist Do During a Skin Cancer Exam?

A skin cancer exam is a procedure during which a dermatologist checks the skin for abnormal growths or changes. The exam may be conducted on all of the skin or may focus on specific areas, such as moles or freckles.

Dermatologists use a variety of techniques to examine the skin, including:

  • Visual inspection
  • Palpation
  • Magnifying glasses

They may also use dermoscopy, a device that uses polarized light to magnify and illuminate the skin. If a dermatologist suspects that a growth is cancerous, they will perform a biopsy, during which a small sample of tissue is removed for further examination.

Skin cancer exams are important for early detection of cancerous growths. They can be performed by appointment or during a routine physical exam.

What is a Dermatologist Looking For During a Skin Cancer Exam?

dermatologist examing mole during skin cancer screening

During a skin cancer exam, a dermatologist will assess the size, shape and color of any suspicious lesions on the skin.

They will also consider whether the lesion is bleeding or itching, as these can be signs of skin cancer. In addition, dermatologists will often perform a biopsy.

What is a Biopsy?

A biopsy is a medical procedure that involves removing a small sample of tissue from the body for examination. Biopsies can be performed on many different types of tissue, including skin, muscles, organs, and even bones.

The procedure is typically conducted using a needle or scalpel, and the sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Depending on the results of the biopsy, further treatment may be required. For instance, if cancerous cells are found, the patient may need to undergo surgery or radiation therapy.

In some cases, a biopsy may be performed simply to obtain a diagnosis, while in others, it may be used to monitor the progression of a disease. Regardless of the reason for the procedure, a biopsy is an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many disease.

If you have any anxiety about your biopsy, let your dermatologist know so that they can help inform you of the entire process.

How Soon Do I Get the Results of a Biopsy?

After a biopsy is performed during a skin cancer screening, the biopsy will be sent to a lab for analysis, and the results usually come back within a week.

If the biopsy is positive for skin cancer, your dermatologist will discuss the next steps with you, which may include additional testing or surgery.

Next Steps

If the Biopsy Comes Back Positive

If the biopsy is positive, meaning cancer cells are present, the dermatologist will begin staging. Staging is the process of finding out how far the cancer has spread. This can be done with additional tests such as imaging scans or a lymph node biopsy.

Once the cancer has been staged, the dermatologist will develop a treatment plan. Treatment options for skin cancer vary depending on the type of cancer, its stage and the patient’s overall health.

Treatment options for skin cancer include Mohs surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

If the Biopsy Comes Back Negative

If the biopsy is negative, meaning no cancer cells are present, the dermatologist will closely monitor the area for any changes.

The dermatologist may also recommend lifestyle changes such as avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreen regularly to help prevent skin cancer in the future.

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