What to Expect at a Skin Cancer Screening
I recommend that most of my patients have a skin check at least once a year. The purpose of this screening is to identify skin cancers early. Of course, I also recommend that patients check their own skin once per month. If they see a suspicious, new or changing spot, they should come in immediately.
Before the visit
I ask patients to come in without anything on their skin. That means no makeup, no nail polish, no sunscreen and no lotions. We will ask patients to remove their makeup if they are wearing it. This is so that we can accurately examine the skin.
My nurse or I will ask the patient about his or her medical history. Specifically, we want to know about any medical conditions and medications (prescription, over the counter medications and supplements). Patients should know what medications they are allergic to and what happened when they took that medication.
In most cases, the patient will be asked to undress and put on a gown. In order to examine all of the skin, I use the gown to drape the patient. We are very respectful of the patient’s privacy during examination. I will examine the patient’s scalp, face and body. I will look between the toes. This is because skin cancer occurs even in areas that do not see the sun.
If I see something suspicious, I will discuss this with the patient. Sometimes, I will perform a skin biopsy. This is a relatively quick procedure and should not cause much discomfort. I will numb the skin and take a sample. The sample will be sent to the lab for evaluation. Results are usually available in about 2 weeks.
It is a good idea for the patient to make a list of the questions that they have and double-check that all concerns were addressed during the visit. Patients should make sure to point out any new or changing spots to the doctor.
Sometimes, we do not have time to address skin concerns that are not related to the cancer screening. To address all concerns, we will ask the patient to make a separate appointment to come back.
We provide written information about skin cancers and skin cancer prevention. We ask that the patients read this information. Early detection of skin cancer can save lives.
Safe in the Sun
“Wear a beach cover-up when headed for an all-day outing in the sun. I actually love the sun shirts that have SPF woven into the fabric.” – Dr. Vishakha Gigler
“The basic difference between a cream and a lotion is that cream is thicker. This allows for better emollition and hydration.” – Dr. Vishakha Gigler