Here's What Happens During A Skin Cancer Check

If you have noticed any changes in your skin such as moles, it is important to get checked out by a dermatologist. Skin cancer screenings are done to detect any signs of potentially problematic areas on the skin. For many people, it is important to go in prepared and be aware of what will happen during the exam. Here's what you need to know about what happens during a skin cancer check.

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

Before going into your appointment, it is important to know what skin cancer looks like to inform your dermatologist of any suspicious spots you may have seen on your body. Skin cancer can come in many shapes and sizes, but you should proactively look for a few common characteristics, including:

  • Asymmetrical shapes
  • Irregular borders
  • Varied colors or shades within one mole
  • Changing appearance

If you notice anything that appears different from other moles on your body, including itching and bleeding, it's best to mention it to your dermatologist prior to your skin cancer check.

Who Needs a Skin Cancer Screening?

Everyone is at risk for skin cancer regardless of ethnicity and needs a regular screening exam. That said, some populations are more susceptible, including people with:

  • Naturally blonde or red hair
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Freckles
  • Family history of skin cancer

Additionally, people who burn easily are also more likely to get skin cancer.

Are You Naked for a Skin Cancer Check?

Before the exam begins, the doctor will ask you about any areas of concern you may have noticed. Then, they will carefully examine all visible areas of your skin using special lighting and magnification tools, if necessary. The amount of clothing needed for the exam depends on which body parts need to be examined, although you typically only need to undress down to a tank top and shorts. During the skin cancer check, the doctor should explain their findings and inform you if they see something suspicious.

What Happens if There is Something Suspicious?

If anything appears suspicious during the checkup, such as an abnormal-looking mole, the doctor may suggest performing a biopsy to determine whether it's cancerous or not. A biopsy involves removing a small piece of tissue from the area so it can be tested under a microscope by a pathologist.

A skin cancer check is an important part of your overall self-care. Wearing sunscreen and getting an annual skin cancer check are both key to preventing and detecting skin cancer.