What Is A Skin Cancer Screening Test?
A skin cancer screening test is the first line of prevention against or treatment for skin cancer. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that all adults have a skin cancer screening at least once a year and more frequently for those who have had skin cancer before or are at higher risk of getting skin cancer. Moreover, while self-examination is important, in a recent study nearly 52% of melanoma cases diagnosed were not identified as suspicious by the patient and, thus, were only detected through screening. While many physicians may offer skin cancer screenings, dermatologists are specially trained to spot skin cancers or precancerous changes in the skin.
During a routine skin cancer screening, the dermatologist will examine every area of skin on your body. He or she may use an instrument called a dermatoscope to look more closely at moles or other markings on your skin. If a spot looks suspicious, the dermatologist will ask you how long it has been there; if you have noticed any changes over time; and if it itches, causes pain, or bothers you in some way. A skin cancer screening will not provide a diagnosis, but if skin cancer is suspected, the dermatologist may take a tissue sample (biopsy) for analysis in a lab. If results from the skin cancer screening show that the sample is malignant (cancerous), your doctor will determine which kind of treatment is most appropriate. Remember, early detection and treatment are critical in preventing the spread of cancer to other parts of your body.