What To Expect From Skin Cancer Screening And Treatment

If you think you may have skin cancer, it's important to see a dermatologist for an examination. Dermatologists help people care for their skin health in addition to providing cosmetic surfaces. Your dermatologist can provide screening services for skin cancer and also help you decide your next steps if cancer is diagnosed. These are four steps involved in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer:

1. Your dermatologist will examine your entire body, including your scalp and feet.

Self-examination allows people to find areas of concern on their bodies. Large moles, moles with irregular coloring, and moles with asymmetrical borders are more likely to be cancerous than those without these features. However, it's important to get the opinion of a professional when dealing with potential cancer. During a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will examine your entire body, using their expertise to identify areas of concern. They will carefully comb through your hair to examine your scalp, in addition to checking hard-to-see places like the soles of your feet and your back and genitals.

2. Your dermatologist will take biopsies.

If your dermatologist identifies moles or lesions that may be cancerous, they will take a biopsy to make a definitive diagnosis. Biopsies remove areas of tissue for lab testing. In some cases, biopsies are cancerous but return with clear margins, which means no further testing is necessary. If an invasive form of skin cancer is present, your dermatologist may require additional tests, such as lymph node biopsies, to rule out metastatic cancer.

3. Your dermatologist will remove the skin cancer.

After a skin cancer diagnosis is confirmed, you will proceed to the next stage of treatment. Dermatologists usually elect to remove skin cancer mechanically through surgery or freezing. If freezing treatment is chosen, dermatologists will use liquid nitrogen to destroy cancerous growths on your skin. Excision surgery can also be used to cut cancerous moles and lesions from your skin. Mohs surgery is a technique that combines biopsy and excision surgery. As tissue is removed, it is examined under a microscope, allowing dermatologists to ensure that no further surgery is required.

4. Your dermatologist may prescribe treatment to destroy additional cancer cells in your body.

People with metastatic skin cancer have cancerous cells present in other locations of their bodies, such as their lymph nodes. Surgery alone is not enough to eradicate this type of cancer. That's why your dermatologist will likely prescribe additional treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, to destroy cancerous cells located in your lymph nodes or organs.

For more information on skin cancer treatment, contact a company like Desert Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists.