MENU

Skin Cancer Screening

 

Knowing the signs of skin cancer and getting regular checkups can help detect skin cancer at an early stage. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Annual screening exams by a dermatologist can help look for cancer before you have any signs or symptoms. The screening exam involves a careful full-body check of your skin. The exam may show precancerous spots called actinic keratoses that often appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the face, ears, back of the hands, and arms. This condition can increase your risk of getting skin cancer, so if you have actinic keratosis, it is important to stay up-to-date with your skin checkups.

Signs of Skin Cancer

Usually, the first sign of skin cancer is a change in the size, shape, color or feel of an existing mole. Many melanomas have a black or blue-black area. A melanoma can also appear as a new mole that is abnormal, black or just "funny-looking."

Know your ABCDEs

The ABCDE guide can help you figure out if you have any spots on your body that should be checked by a dermatologist. 

A - Asymmetry

One half of the area does not match the other half

B - Border

The edges are irregular, ragged, or blurred

C - Color

The color varies from one area to another and may include shades of tan, brown, or black, sometimes with patches of red, white, or blue

D - Diameter

The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across – about the size of a pencil eraser

E - Evolution

Any mole that is changing in color, size, or shape

It is also important to watch for spots, bumps, moles, freckles, or patches of skin that itch, ooze, or bleed. If you notice any unusual or worrisome changes, make an appointment with a dermatologist for a thorough screening exam. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Biopsy

Once a tumor has been identified, a biopsy is necessary to obtain a tissue sample, which is required in order to make a diagnosis and to determine the cancer staging. In a traditional core needle biopsy, a fine needle to collect a number of tissue samples, which are then examined for cell abnormalities that are a sign of  cancer.  Fox Chase radiologists specialize in performing image-guided biopsies. Using ultrasound, CT or MRI guidance, radiologists can sample even small lesions or lesions that are difficult to access by other means, as well as biopsies on patients with complicating medical factors. All biopsies performed at Fox Chase are minimally invasive.

One procedure specifically related to melanoma is the sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). SLNB is recommended for all patients with melanoma tumors of intermediate thickness (between one and four milimeters in depth).