No matter your personal skin cancer risk, regular testing is key for detecting the disease early and starting treatment. Skin cancer screenings are quick, but you might not know what to expect during your first appointment. This guide will break down the basics of skin cancer exams, so you can feel at ease during the screening.
The frequency of your skin cancer screenings will depend on your personal skin cancer risk, so be sure to talk to your dermatologist. If you’re at average risk, they will likely recommend that you come in once a year for an exam. However, those with heightened risks may need to see their doctors more often. You should also make an appointment for a screening if you see any changes in your skin or any moles.
During a skin cancer screening, a medical dermatology specialist will check every inch of your skin for signs of skin cancer. You will likely wear a medical gown during the exam. To start the screening, the dermatologist will ask you about any specific concerns you have or any moles that may look abnormal.
They will then inspect your skin, including areas like your scalp and between your toes. As they check your skin, the dermatologist will look for abnormal moles and other areas of the skin that may be unusual. They may use a magnifying tool to get a closer look at these spots.
If your dermatologist is concerned about a specific mole, they will perform a mole biopsy. They will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area and scrape off a part of the mole for further testing. They would use a similar method to shave off any area of the skin for testing.
If the visual portion of your skin cancer screening is clear, you will be free to leave the office. Your dermatologist can recommend when to make your next appointment. If the doctor performed a mole or skin biopsy, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get the results. They will give you an estimate and call you to discuss the outcome.
If you do receive a positive biopsy, you will need to come to the office to discuss the results. This will be an opportunity to talk about treatment options and ask any questions. It’s important to collect as much information as possible to fully understand your diagnosis and course of treatment.
If your test comes back negative, be sure to discuss skin cancer prevention with the doctor. They may want to see you more often for screenings if you had unusual moles and spots on your skin.
Skin cancer screenings are key for early detection, and the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists is proud to offer these exams for our patients. With locations in Carson, CA and the surrounding area, we provide skin cancer screenings and treatment, as well as information about prevention. Contact us today to schedule your screening.