Posted on: 6 May 2022Share
A simple skin cancer check by a dermatologist could save your life. When skin cancer is caught early, it's often possible to remove it surgically before it spreads to the rest of your body.
It's important to monitor your skin yourself to watch for changes you might need to report to a dermatologist, but a skin cancer check at a dermatologist's clinic—such as Advanced Dermatology of Northern California—is also important since it is difficult to check your back and scalp yourself. Here are some tips for checking your skin for signs of cancer, and what might happen if cancer is found.
Check Your Skin With Mirrors
Make it a habit to check your skin for unusual growths, mole changes, and discolorations. You might check daily when you apply moisturizers, but it's also good to check your entire body using mirrors so you can see your legs and back too.
Look for new moles, changes in moles, and any growth that has a different appearance from your other moles. If you find a mole or growth with irregular borders or an odd discoloration, let your dermatologist know.
Get An Annual Skin Cancer Check
Your dermatologist might want to check your skin once a year or more often if you have had skin cancer. A check by a dermatologist is much more thorough since the doctor uses a magnifying device to see your skin more closely. The doctor checks the scalp on top of your head and looks at your entire body down to the soles of your feet.
They may not check areas covered by your underwear, so you may want to discuss this in advance. It could be best to let the dermatologist check those areas too since you can still get skin cancer in areas that are covered with clothing.
Have Biopsies When Needed
If you have a suspicious growth, the dermatologist may remove part of it so a biopsy can be done. A biopsy confirms or denies the presence of cancer cells. You may not get the results of a biopsy right away. Instead, your dermatologist may call you days later and let you know if cancer cells were found and if you need to come in for treatment.
Get The Skin Cancer Removed
If you're found to have skin cancer, the doctor may remove the cancer by cutting out the growth and the surrounding skin. This can be challenging when the cancer is on your face and you don't want a scar left behind.
In that case, the dermatologist can do a surgery that removes small areas of skin at a time. The removed skin is checked right away for cancer cells. If cells are discovered, more skin is removed and examined. This continues until the removed skin shows no signs of cancer cells.
Removing the cancerous growth may be the only treatment you need, but if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or elsewhere in your body, additional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation may be needed.