Skin Checks & Diagnosis

skin cancer diagnosisSkin checks performed both at home and by a doctor can help detect skin cancer early.

You can get started by asking your doctor to examine your body and point out any moles, freckles, or spots that you should monitor. Perform skin checks at home about once every month, using a mirror to help you see hard-to-reach areas like your back.


What to Look For During a Skin Check

There are several warning signs to keep in mind while performing a skin check.

  1. Look for any mole, freckle, spot or skin growth that begins to change. This includes changing color, growing larger, or beginning to hurt and/or bleed.
  2. Look for irregular outlines. Normal moles have a fairly regular outline. If you notice any spots with a jagged outline that appears to be changing in size, notify your doctor.
  3. Look for abnormal colors. Spots with a pearly sheen, black spots, or multicolored areas should be examined.

If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your doctor.

Diagnosing Skin Cancer

If you bring a suspicious spot to your doctor’s attention, the doctor will often ask when the spot began to change in appearance. This is one reason why regular at-home skin checks are important. History of sun burn or indoor tanning is worth noting.

When skin cancer is suspected, you may be referred to a dermatologist who will perform more testing. This may involve looking at the spot under magnification, taking photos, or a skin biopsy. In a biopsy, the doctor removes a sample of skin from the mole or spot and sends it to a lab for microscopic examination. Ask if the sample will be read by a dermatopathologist.  At any dermatology appointment, its best to not wear fingernail polish, make-up or foundation. With a thorough skin check you can expect the Dr. to examine your body from head to toe – looking at scalp and between the buttocks, toes, fingers.

To help you find an experienced dermatologist near you, try MediFind’s resource tool here.

*Disclaimer: Skin of Steel is devoted to educational purposes only and does not replace or substitute professional medical care. Information provided by SOS should not be used for diagnosing or treating a skin problem or disease. If you have or suspect you have a skin problem, please consult with a dermatologist, or other qualified professional healthcare provider.