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What Should I Expect At A Skin Cancer Screening?

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When you look at your skin, can you tell if something is a freckle, mole, sunspot, or skin cancer? The skin experts and board-certified dermatologists at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera can answer these questions and more during a skin cancer screenings for patients in Marin. Although skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it can be deadly, it is also one of the easiest to treat. Annual skin cancer screenings help detect skin irregularities and can help with cancer prevention and treatment.

Find out what happens at a skin cancer screening here, so you can be better prepared before your appointment. The skin experts at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera also offer online consultations (TeleHealth visits) so patients can have a virtual meeting with one of our skin experts from the comfort of their home.

Is a yearly skin cancer screening necessary?

If you are concerned about a suspicious-looking spot, or just unsure of what to look for, you're not alone. Roughly 96,000 new melanoma cases were diagnosed last year, according to the American Cancer Society. The Skin Cancer Foundation shows that 20% of United States citizens will get some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. Routine skin exams should be on everyone's yearly list of health appointments, especially if there is a personal or family history of skin cancer. A skin cancer screening is a visual exam to detect any unusual marks or spots that may be signs of skin cancer. Early detection is vital, and it offers patients in Marin the opportunity for more treatment options, as well as a more positive outcome.

How is a skin cancer screening done?

Our certified dermatologists at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera offer complete skin exams and biopsies of abnormal growths, as well as other innovative skin cancer procedures and treatments. Before starting the screening, a member of our team will review a patient's medical history, answer questions, and listen to their concerns. At the start of each skin cancer screening, patients will be asked to change into an examination gown, which enables our dermatologist to conduct a thorough examination of the body, including the:

  • Scalp
  • Inside the mouth
  • Between the buttocks
  • Palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • Fingernails and toenails (no nail polish)
  • Mucous membranes

What happens at a skin cancer screening?

During the skin exam, the certified dermatologists at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera may look at any unusual spots with a dermatoscope, which is a flashlight and magnifying glass. This enables them to take a closer look at moles or other spots that may be hard to see with the naked eye. A suspicious area may be noted and monitored over time. A photograph may also be taken to help with the monitoring process and give our skin experts something to compare against at the next skin cancer screening appointment. If further steps must be taken with a particular spot, a biopsy will be performed that same day, if possible. A local anesthetic will numb the area, and a small sample of the lesion will be analyzed. In most cases, biopsy results are usually back within 7 – 10 days.

When patients undergo regular skin cancer screenings, it increases the chance of a skin cancer lesion being caught early, in the treatable stage. A skin exam is a quick appointment that generally takes about 20 – 30 minutes. Most patients find that there is minimal, if any, pain during the examination. For first time appointments, it may take a little longer as our skin experts will go over a patient's medical history and ask questions about any skin cancer risk factors. With over five million cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year in the United States, contrary to what people might think, anyone can get skin cancer. Annual screenings with a certified dermatologist from head to toe is a preventative way to monitor your overall general health.

With two convenient locations in Corte Madera and greater Marin County, CA and San Francisco, CA let our certified dermatologist and experienced staff at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera help. Contact us today to schedule your private skin cancer screening appointment.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.