About Skin Cancer Screening
This information is intended for general information only and should not be considered as medical advice on the part of Health-Tourism.com. Any decision on medical treatments, after-care or recovery should be done solely upon proper consultation and advice of a qualified physician.
What is a Skin Cancer Screening?
This is a medical visual examination of your body by a doctor to check for skin cancer. Blood work is not conducted at a skin cancer screening. Skin cancer screening is usually performed to detect skin problems before they become cancerous.Why screen for skin cancer?
Skin cancer is very common and can occur in people of different colors and races. There are various types of skin cancer which include melanoma, actinic keratoses, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are the most common but melanoma is the deadliest. Early detection of skin cancer is vital in providing effective treatment. If melanoma is detected before spreading it has a high chance of being cured. Regular annual examinations by a dermatologist and self-skin examinations help in early detection of skin cancer.Who screens for skin cancer?
Skin cancer screening is usually performed by dermatologists. They also raise awareness of effective techniques that prevent skin cancer. Skin cancer screening takes about 10 minutes. Other healthcare professional and even you can examine your body. You should have someone else check your back and other areas that are hard to check. Full body examinations are recommended if possible. If not exposed areas such as hands, legs, neck and face can be checked.What Happens During Screening?
Performing a Biopsy
- A medical doctor, usually a dermatologist will screen for skin cancer by performing a full body examination.
- The dermatologist looks for any skin changes that could be skin cancer.
- They check the existing moles and birthmarks and the pigmentation for the ABCDE signs of melanoma. Abnormal size, shape, color or texture of moles and birthmarks or irregular patches of skin are cause for concern.
If Cancer Is Found
- If the doctor suspects cancer, he may need to perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
- A small piece of abnormal skin or mole is usually removed.
- The doctor then studies the suspicious cells under a microscope.
- He/she may also perform other tests on the sample of skin.
- A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose skin cancer.
Has the Cancer Spread?
- If the biopsy results show that you have skin cancer, other tests may be done to investigate if cancer has spread within the skin or to other parts of the body such as the internal organs.
- Usually, cancer spreads to nearby tissues and then to the lymph nodes.
- Lymph nodes are masses of lymphatic tissue and are an important part of the immune system of the body. They play a vital role in defending against diseases by storing white blood cells and filtering lymphatic fluid.
- To investigate if cancer has spread a lymph node test is carried out. This is often the case in melanomas.
- The surgeon injects a blue dye, radioactive substance or both near the skin tumor.
- The surgeon then uses a scanner to locate the lymph nodes containing the radioactive substance or dye.
- He/she may remove the lymph nodes to examine if cancer cells are present.
- If the doctor suspects cancer has spread, other tests such as computed axial tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging(MRI) may be used to find tumors in other body parts.
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