What To Expect With A Skin Cancer Screening Test

If you think you are at high risk for skin cancer, consider having a dermatologist perform a skin cancer screening test. Skin cancer is common, preventable, and highly treatable if it is caught early. Read on to learn more about skin cancer risks and what happens during a skin cancer exam.

Who Is at Higher Risk for Skin Cancer?

Generally, those with fairer skin, hair, and eye color are at higher risk for skin cancer. People with those characteristics should take extra precautions in protecting their skin. However, you may also have a higher risk if any of the below applies to you:

  • You have a family history of skin cancer
  • You spend or have spent an unusually high amount of time in the sun
  • You have used tanning beds
  • You have a large number of moles on your body
  • You've had severe sunburns with blisters
  • You have received an organ transplant

How Can You Do a Self-Exam?

You can check yourself for skin cancer, though it is a little more difficult without a partner. Checking your skin regularly is an excellent way to notice problems before they spread. Use a mirror and check all over your body. You should pay extra attention to the following things:

  • Moles that look asymmetrical or that have irregular borders
  • Moles that bleed
  • Moles or growths that itch
  • Moles or growths that are new

Pay extra attention to moles that are larger than a quarter-inch or that seem to change over time.

How Does a Dermatologist Perform a Check?

A dermatologist will do a similar exam to a self-check, but their check is more thorough. Make sure you don't wear makeup or encumbering clothing and jewelry. The dermatologist is trained to spot skin cancer, but they can also diagnose other skin conditions. He or she will look in more difficult-to-reach areas such as your scalp and back.

What Happens If the Dermatologist Suspects Cancer?

If the dermatologist finds something suspicious, he or she may opt to do a biopsy for further analysis. A biopsy is when the doctor removes a small amount of tissue and examines it more closely. The dermatologist does the procedure under local anesthesia. If you receive a cancer diagnosis, the doctor will perform surgery to remove the affected area.

If your dermatologist considers you high-risk, you will need an exam as part of your annual physical. However, you should keep an eye on your skin even if you aren't at high risk. If the doctor finds something unusual, then you may need to take extra steps. If you need a skin cancer screening test, or if you have a general skin problem, see a dermatologist.

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Dermatologists Want You to Feel Confident Dermatologists spend day in and day out helping patients improve the looks of their skin. Their primary goal is to get your skin healthy, but did you know that they also want you to feel confident? Skin problems like acne and psoriasis can leave patients with a lack of confidence. For some patients, this lack of confidence is so profound that they barely leave their homes. In helping to ease your skin conditions, dermatologists hope that you also get your confidence back. You can learn more about the work these doctors do on this website. Remember that by working with a dermatologist, you can improve the health of your skin and of your mind.