Skin Cancer Screening Patient Version
On This Page
Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help findcancer at an early stage. When abnormaltissue or cancer is found early, it maybe easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begunto spread.
Scientists are trying to better understand whichpeople are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They also study the thingswe do and the things around us to see if they cause cancer. Thisinformation helps doctors recommend who should be screened for cancer, whichscreening tests should be used, and how often the tests should be done.
It is important to remember that your doctor does not necessarilythink you have cancer if he or she suggests a screening test. Screeningtests are given when you have no cancer symptoms.
If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer. These are called diagnostic tests.
What Happens During A Skin Check
How long does a skin check take?A skin check can take up to 30 minutes. This includes some time for the doctor to ask you questions about your general health. Make sure you tell the doctor about any spots or moles you have which are Sore, Changing, Abnormal or New. The actual check of your skin can take from 5 to 20 minutes depending on your skin type and the number of moles and spots to be looked at.
What equipment does the doctor use?Your doctor will use a dermatoscope to have a close up / magnified look at any spots of concern. A dermatoscope is a bit like a torch with a magnifying glass attached to the end. Using a dermatoscope is painless. Sometimes the doctor may take a photograph of a spot or mole so it can be monitored over time for any changes in appearance.
Do I have to get undressed?Yes down to your underwear.
What happens if the doctor finds anything which could be skin cancer?Your doctor will tell you straight away if you have any moles or spots which require testing. To test the mole or spot the doctor will either take a small biopsy of it, or completely excise the spot of concern under local anaesthetic of course. In most cases another appointment will be made to remove the abnormal mole or spot. This type of minor surgery can be carried out at your doctors surgery or office. There is usually no need for this to be done in a hospital.
Remember…the most effective management for skin cancer is early detection and treatment.
Skin Cancer Screening And Diagnosis
A skin cancer screening can help identify in its earliest stages while its easiest to treat. To detect and diagnose skin cancer, a dermatologist checks the skin over your entire body. He or she also asks questions about your past health and possible you may have noticed, like a skin lesion that burns or itches without improvement.
Your doctor will use a bright light to examine your body for any atypical moles or other changes in your skin. Some doctors may make whats called a mole map to identify potentially cancerous moles and see if their appearance changes from year to year. Your doctor will also ask you questions about when your skin or mole appearance changes started, whether you have any family history of skin cancer and if youve had exposure to certain chemicals or substances.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Merkel Cell Carcinoma
What The Doctor Is Looking For
- Asymmetry: Not the same shape on both sides
- Border irregularity: Ragged or blurred edges
- Color: Different shades of tan, brown, or black
- Diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch
- Evolving: Changes over time
How Fast Should I Make Decisions
With skin cancer, its important to act but not so fast that you miss opportunities to listen to the recommended treatment plan and consider any questions you may have. The first step is typically scheduling an appointment with a skin cancer oncologist who will consult with his/her team to give you their best recommendation.
The skin cancer experts at Arizona Oncology are here to serve you with care, both physically and emotionally, as you journey through dealing with skin cancer.
Don’t Miss: Is Skin Cancer Caused By The Sun
How Can I Detect Skin Cancer
The first answer is to simply look at your skin. Because you see your skin every day, you are detector number one. By knowing what is normal for your skin, and then thoroughly inspecting it on a regular usually monthly basis, many skin cancers can be self- detected.
When examining your skin, take note of all existing spots, moles and freckles on your skin, so that youll know when changes occur or a new one appears. You can track these easily with this body mole map from the American Academy of Dermatology. Stand in front of mirror and examine your front and back, head to toe. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your forearms, palms and the back of your upper arms. Use a hand mirror to check the back of your neck, scalp, buttocks and other hard-to-see places. Dont forget the bottoms of your feet and between your toes.
Permission To Use This Summary
PDQ is a registered trademark. The content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text. It cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless the whole summary is shown and it is updated regularly. However, a user would be allowed to write a sentence such as NCIs PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks in the following way: .
The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:
PDQ® Screening and Prevention Editorial Board. PDQ Skin Cancer Screening. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated < MM/DD/YYYY> . Available at: . Accessed < MM/DD/YYYY> .
Images in this summary are used with permission of the author, artist, and/or publisher for use in the PDQ summaries only. If you want to use an image from a PDQ summary and you are not using the whole summary, you must get permission from the owner. It cannot be given by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the images in this summary, along with many other images related to cancer can be found in Visuals Online. Visuals Online is a collection of more than 3,000 scientific images.
You May Like: How To Reduce Risk Of Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Screening Schedule
If you have developed new moles, or a close relative has a history of melanoma, you should examine your body once a month. Most moles are benign . Moles that are of greater medical concern include those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear in adulthood.
If you notice changes in a mole’s color or appearance, you should have a dermatologist evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, appear scaly, or become tender or painful.
Tests Are Used To Screen For Different Types Of Cancer When A Person Does Not Have Symptoms
Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest harms and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection helps a person live longer or decreases a person’s chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, the chance of recovery is better if the disease is found and treated at an early stage.
Don’t Miss: How To Treat Basal Cell Carcinoma On The Nose
Free Skin Cancer Screenings At Columbiadoctors
In collaboration with the American Academy of Dermatology, ColumbiaDoctors offers free skin cancer screenings by board-certified dermatologists. Each screening takes about 10 minutes. This is a rapid screening for skin cancer and should not replace or be a substitute for an annual examination by your dermatologist.
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy
FNA biopsy is not used on suspicious moles. But it may be used, for example, to biopsy large lymph nodes near a melanoma to find out if the melanoma has spread to them.
For this type of biopsy, the doctor uses a syringe with a thin, hollow needle to remove very small pieces of a lymph node or tumor. The needle is smaller than the needle used for a blood test. A local anesthetic is sometimes used to numb the area first. This test rarely causes much discomfort and does not leave a scar.
If the lymph node is just under the skin, the doctor can often feel it well enough to guide the needle into it. For a suspicious lymph node deeper in the body or a tumor in an organ such as the lung or liver, an imaging test such as ultrasound or a CT scan is often used to help guide the needle into place.
FNA biopsies are not as invasive as some other types of biopsies, but they may not always collect enough of a sample to tell if a suspicious area is melanoma. In these cases, a more invasive type of biopsy may be needed.
Don’t Miss: What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Of Skin
How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer
For all types of skin cancer, the first lines of defense are awareness and prevention. Prevention steps center on avoiding ultraviolet radiation exposure from both sunlight and tanning beds. This means staying out of the sun, especially when the suns rays are strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. using a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and covering exposed skin with protective clothing when outdoors, even on a cloudy day.
Perform a skin self-exam
Get To Know Your Skin
It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.
It’s important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you, so that you notice any changes. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt.
Develop a regular habit of checking your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles.
Don’t Miss: How Deadly Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Skin Cancer Clinics At Icon
Icon provides treatment for skin cancer at all our centres.
We also proudly offer dedicated skin cancer clinics that use the latest technology to ensure accurate skin checking and mole mapping diagnosis and access to the best possible, affordable skin cancer treatment to suit the needs of our patients.
What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
Recommended Reading: How Bad Is Basal Cell Carcinoma
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
If melanoma has been diagnosed and has any concerning features , a sentinel lymph node biopsy is often done to see if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, which in turn might affect treatment options. This test can be used to find the lymph nodes that are likely to be the first place the melanoma would go if it has spread. These lymph nodes are called sentinel nodes .
To find the sentinel lymph node , a doctor injects a small amount of a radioactive substance into the area of the melanoma. After giving the substance time to travel to the lymph node areas near the tumor, a special camera is used to see if it collects in one or more sentinel lymph nodes. Once the radioactive area has been marked, the patient is taken for surgery, and a blue dye is injected in the same place the radioactive substance was injected. A small incision is then made in the marked area, and the lymph nodes are then checked to find which one became radioactive and turned blue. These sentinel nodes are removed and looked at under a microscope.
If there are no melanoma cells in the sentinel nodes, no more lymph node surgery is needed because it is very unlikely the melanoma would have spread beyond this point. If melanoma cells are found in the sentinel node, the remaining lymph nodes in this area are typically removed and looked at as well. This is known as a lymph node dissection .
Why Get A Skin Check
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Every year over 430,000 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer. Whilst most skin cancers are relatively benign, about 1% of skin cancers are an aggressive type of cancer called melanoma.
Each year, over 1,600 people will die from Melanoma. Melanoma starts as a small growth in the skin, but later spreads to other parts of the body. If melanoma is detected early, the odds of survival are very good, typically above 95%. However, if the melanomia is detected late, the chances of survival are poor, about 20 60%.
Regular skin checks are an important tool for early detection of melanoma and other skin cancers.
Melanoma survival odds, early vs late detection.
Also Check: Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Skin Cancer
Support Groups And Other Services
We know this is a difficult time, but you can do this–and the cancer care specialists at Arizona Oncology are ready to help you every step of the way. Were here to answer questions and connect you with the resources you need. Visit our Treatment and Services page for more information.
For your convenience, Arizona Oncology treatment centers are located throughout the state, so you can be cared for in a supportive environment thats close to home. Our office locations serve:
- Phoenix Area including Arrowhead, Chandler, Deer Valley, East Valley, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe
- Southern Arizona including Tucson and Green Valley
- Northern Arizona including Flagstaff and Prescott Valley
What Doctors And Specialists Treat Skin Cancer
Skin cancer treatment may require a team approach.
Simple skin cancers can usually be handled by a dermatologist in an office setting. More complex cases, however, may require the expertise of several health professionals to both diagnose and treat the cancer.
The experts on your healthcare team can answer important questions and provide valuable information about your diagnosis. The number of providers youll see will depend on the type of skin cancer you have and how advanced it is.
Don’t Miss: How Does Skin Cancer Develop
Youve Been Diagnosed With Skin Cancer Now What
Some dermatologists have experience in treating skin cancer and perform minor skin cancer surgery. In some cases the skin cancer can be removed quickly and easily by a dermatologist and no further treatment is needed, but regular follow up is recommended.
If your skin cancer will require further treatment after removal, or if the skin cancer is located in an area thats difficult to operate on, an oncologist may be the best option. A skin cancer oncologist is most familiar with all of the various cancer treatment drugs, clinical trials, radiation treatments and supportive care services that cancer patients may need during treatment
Your oncologist at Arizona Oncology will spend time with you and your loved ones to understand your specific situation to develop a specific treatment plan for you. They will connect you with additional specialists as needed, including:
- Skin cancer surgeon and/or plastic surgeon.
- Radiation oncologist who can offer external radiation therapy, called brachytherapy.
- Oncology nurses who are familiar with the skin cancer treatment process, side effects and how to best manage them.
Early Detection Is Key
Make a habit of regularly checking your entire skin surface from head to toe, perhaps once a month. You dont have to memorize each spot, just get familiar with the types of spots you have so that youll spot an ugly duckling more easily. Once you get used to it, a thorough exam will take only a few minutes.
Keep an eye out for changes in your skin: new or changing spots , or a spot that itches, bleeds, or wont heal. Be sure to have anything you think is suspicious checked out by your dermatologist, and consider having an annual skin check completed by your dermatologist or primary physician. A biopsy may be recommended to confirm whether or not a spot is skin cancer and to determine skin cancer type.
You May Like: How Can You Treat Skin Cancer
Finding The Right Doctor For You
Finding the right doctor can be a frustrating challenge. Our bodies’ systems are connected in complicated ways. Knowing which specialist is right for which ailment often requires time, research, and expertise. In the following slides, our experts will show you who treats what medical need, introducing many of the commonand surprisingtypes of doctors, including cardiologists, gynecologists, and bariatricians.