Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer screening is a visual exam of the skin to check for signs of skin cancer. Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms, and it can help find cancer at an early, treatable stage of disease.
What To Expect for Your Full-Body Skin Exam
You will need to dress down and wear an exam gown for your full-body skin exam. You may leave your undergarments on for the exam.
Your dermatologist uses a dermatoscope to examine your skin from head to toe, including your scalp, fingers, toes, fingernail beds, and toenail beds. Your doctor will check the skin for moles, birthmarks, or other pigmented areas that look abnormal in size, color, shape, or texture. A dermatoscope helps to give a magnified, detailed view of any skin spots or moles.
If you have a skin growth that your dermatologist wants to watch over time, your doctor will take photographs at your first visit. At subsequent visits, your doctor will compare it to look for any changes.
If you have any suspicious-looking spots on your skin, your dermatologist will do a skin biopsy to remove as much of the tissue as possible with a local incision. The specimen will be sent to the lab for a pathologist to look at under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
Note that a skin biopsy may cause scarring.
If you had a skin biopsy done, we would notify you of the results as soon as we get the report back from the lab. If your results are negative for skin cancer (benign skin cells), you’ll be scheduled for your next annual skin cancer screening.
If your results are positive for skin cancer (malignant skin cells), you’ll be scheduled for a follow-up visit to discuss your biopsy results (type of skin cancer) and treatment options.
Skin Cancer Screening Near You in NY, NJ, PA, CT and FL
Skin Cancer Screening FAQs
When should you start screening for skin cancer?
You should start screening for skin cancer in your 20s or 30s, or perhaps sooner if you are in the sun a lot, have a family history of skin cancer, or have moles.
How long does a skin cancer screening exam take?
A full-body skin exam usually takes 10-15 minutes. However, if a skin biopsy is needed, allow for additional time for numbing the area and taking a skin sample.
How often should you get a full-body skin exam?
You should get a full-body skin exam once a year, especially if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Blonde or red hair
- Light eye color
- Skin that freckles or sunburns easily
- Family history of melanoma
- Personal history of sunburns
- History of unusual moles
- Tanning bed use
- More than 50 moles
- A suspicious-looking mole
How should you prepare for a skin cancer screening?
Do not wear any makeup or nail polish for your skin cancer screening, and wear your hair loose, so your provider can examine your scalp.