Skin Cancer Screening Examination
We believe the fight against skin cancer begins with proper protection against the sun’s damaging rays (ionizing radiation), which includes the daily use of sunblock (an SPF of 30 or higher on all sun exposed skin), clothing (such as a brimmed hat to cover your ears and nose, and other garments, particularly SPF rated clothing), avoiding the peak exposure time of day (10 am-4pm), and shade. Secondly, self-examination on a monthly basis is recommended to look for any new or changing spot and let your dermatologist examine this lesion. Thirdly, for patients who are at risk for skin cancer, a skin cancer screening examination is recommended. You and your dermatologist will determine how frequently you should be screened based upon the findings, risk, and your concerns. For example, we believe if you are a transplant patient (kidney, heart, lung or liver/pancreas), every an every 3-4 month screening is recommended. Because of the immune suppressing medications to prevent rejection, skin cancers (squamous cell carcinomas) are more likely and found in areas of minimal to little or no sun exposure.
We believe a skin cancer screening examination should be thorough and complete, ideally without makeup, as most skin cancers occur on the face and neck, and may involve anogenital region.
Our dermatologists will use a hand held instrument, called a dermoscope, to help detect a lesion that might require biopsy.
What is dermoscopy or dermatoscopy?
Our board certified dermatologists are trained to use dermoscopy, a noninvasive technique that allows microscopic visualization of structures below the skin with a hand held microscope. Our physicians use the latest dermoscope – the Dermlite DL4.
During your skin cancer screening examination, your dermatologist will use his or her dermoscope to study and concentrate on specific lesions and formulate a logical group of diagnostic possibilities. By examining pigmented or even nonpigmented moles, our physicians are able to evaluate more accurately your moles by identifying microscopic structures beneath the skin (not visible to the naked eye) that correlate to early melanoma. With advanced training and experience in this technique, your dermatologist will know with more confidence and accuracy if a biopsy is necessary. This will result in earlier diagnosis and treatment which is crucial in managing melanoma outcomes. Also, dermoscopy often reduces unneeded biopsies. Sometimes the dermoscopic findings are equivocal so then the decision to biopsy a lesion rests on what’s best for you, the patient. Dermoscopy may be used to help determine between a mole and other benign lesions such as warts, skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and dysplastic moles from early melanoma.
Dermoscopic images can be stored on each provider’s device for future comparison, so dermoscopy helps with surveillance and close follow up examinations. With the use of the FotoFinder, our physicians can assess suspicious moles with higher degree of accuracy to determine if a biopsy is necessary because of higher power and resolution than their hand held dermoscopes. They also are able to store multiple images and create a digital mole map if necessary. This procedure may be covered benefit under certain plans such as Aetna.