Skin Cancer Screening
Diagnosing skin cancer
Your doctor may perform the following in your exam to determine if you have skin cancer:
- Examine your skin. Your doctor may look at your skin to determine whether your skin changes are likely to be skin cancer. Further testing may be needed to confirm that diagnosis.
- Remove a sample of suspicious skin for testing (skin biopsy).Your doctor may remove a small sample of suspicious-looking skin for laboratory testing. A biopsy can determine whether you have skin cancer and, if so, what type of skin cancer you have.
Determining the extent of the skin cancer
If it is determined by our doctor that you have skin cancer in most cases additional tests will be ordered to determine the extend and stage of the skin cancer. Because superficial skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma rarely spread, a biopsy which removes the entire growth often is the only test needed to determine the cancer stage. But if you have a large squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma or melanoma, your doctor may recommend further tests to determine the extent of the cancer.
Doctors use the Roman numerals I through IV to indicate a cancer’s stage. Stage I cancers are small and limited to the area where they began. Stage IV indicates advanced cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
The skin cancer’s stage helps determine which treatment options will be most effective.