If you spot an unusual growth or a change in a mole, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist for a skin cancer check. Skin cancer is fairly easy to treat when it's caught early. That's why it's so important to see a dermatologist as soon as you see something concerning. Here are things to know about getting a skin cancer check.
The Check Takes Several Minutes
Since skin cancer can appear anywhere, your dermatologist will check you over from head to toe with a magnifying glass that makes it easy to see growths and moles on your skin. You'll need to undress and wear an exam gown so the doctor can check your skin thoroughly. Be sure to point out areas you are concerned about.
All growths aren't skin cancer, and there are many things that can cause skin bumps and discolorations. Your doctor might suspect that the growth is cancer, but a visual exam won't confirm a cancer diagnosis. A biopsy is needed for that.
A Biopsy Diagnoses Cancer
If your dermatologist thinks you might have skin cancer, they take a sample of the growth and send it to the lab to be tested for cancer cells. This process might take several days, so you'll go home to await the results of the biopsy. When you get the results, the dermatologist will let you know if you need to schedule an appointment for more testing or treatment.
Repeat Checks May Be Recommended
Your dermatologist recommends the right frequency for your future skin cancer checks. Once a year might be appropriate, but if you've ever had skin cancer, you may need to see your dermatologist more often than that. Plus, if you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer because of a family history of skin cancer, previous sunburns, using a tanning bed, or having a lot of moles, your dermatologist may recommend more frequent skin cancer checks.
Checking At Home Is Recommended Too
It's also a good idea to do self-checks for skin cancer at home on a routine basis and report unusual findings to your dermatologist. Be sure to look between your toes, in your hair, and other places you might overlook. Of course, it's always a good idea to use sunscreen and avoid the sun and tanning beds as much as possible so you reduce your risk of skin cancer. However, skin cancer is a potential risk if you've had bad sunburns in the past, so see your dermatologist at the frequency they recommend for a thorough skin cancer check.
For more information about skin cancer checks, speak with a company near you, such as Advanced Dermatology of Northern California.