In the event that you have a fair skin or have spent a lot of time in the sun, it is very important that you ask your doctor if you need a regular skin cancer screening.
These visual examinations by your doctor or dermatologist can help you detect the presence of cancerous skin or will likely turn it into cancer. This is important because skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it is also one of the easiest types of cancer to be treated if it is detected early.
Before your exam
One of those things that are important is to do a self-examination of your skin before making an appointment this will enable you to report anything that seems strange to you.
Make sure you check every part of your skin, including the scalp, behind your ears, beneath your arms, and between the buttocks. A full-length mirror and a hand mirror have been found to be helpful in seeing places that are difficult to reach. You will want to take note of any moles or growths that:
- Are new
- Have changed over time
What Happens during a Skin Cancer Full Body examination?
Usually, the screening lasts for 10 minutes or more if the doctor detects any moles that seem to be strange. You will be asked to remove all your clothes and wear a medical exam gown. Your doctor will ask you if you have any moles that worry you. Then he/she will examine every part of your body from the face, chest, arms, back, and leg to less visible places such as the scalp, between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
What the doctor is looking for
When examining skin cancer, your doctor will check “ABCDE” for each mole and all possible signs of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry: different shape on both sides
- Border irregularity: Ragged or blurred edges
- Color: Different glooms of tan, brown, or black
- Diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch
- Evolving: Changes over time
There will be a need for the doctor to also check for actinic keratosis, skin changes caused by sun damage, which, without treatment, can turn into cancer.
A Mole Biopsy
Visual examination of your skin can only detect moles that may be cancerous. It cannot say with certainty that you have it. The only way to diagnose the disease is to carry out a test known as a biopsy. In the event that your doctor thinks the mole is a problem, you will be given a shot of numbing medication, then remove as much of the mole as possible. You should not feel pain, just pulling or pressure. Your doctor will forward a sample of your mole to a laboratory where it will be examined under a microscope for cancer cells.
If the outcome of the biopsy reveals skin cancer, your doctor will advise on the next steps and the type of treatment that may suit you. You might want to ask for a different opinion because it can be difficult to detect the difference between non-cancer specimens and the other.
How often do you need a skin cancer test?
There are different opinions on this issue. Some medical groups say that you should only be examined for suspicious moles or if you have a high risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Others recommend an annual review of people with high risk of skin cancer.
Your dermatologist may decide to meet with you two times a year in the event that you have ever had a basal or squamous cell cancer. After diagnosing melanoma, you will probably see your dermatologist every 3 months during the first year and then twice a year.
There will be a need for you to put on medical gown during skin screening
It has been discovered that skin cancer may appear anywhere on your body, even in places not exposed to the sun. During your screening, your dermatologist will conduct a head-to-toe examination, which will include your scalp, lower side of your foot, and even your genital area. Patient comfort is very important, but it is better to withstand a few moments of discomfort than to ignore the suspicious spot. It can only save the patient’s life.
Avoid wearing makeup and nail polish for your skin screening
When you are going for skin screening make sure you are not putting on any makeup or nail polish. This is because they cover areas of your skin that are prone to cancer, it is best to avoid these products on the day of screening so your dermatologist can make a thorough screening.