Skin Cancer Screening FAQ

Skin Cancer Screening FAQ


What is a skin cancer screening?

A skin cancer screening is an examination of the body for skin cancer symptoms and signs, such as changes in appearance of unusual moles/spots. In some cases, a biopsy may be performed, but usually the screening is completely non-invasive.

Who should undergo a skin cancer screening?

While almost everyone should undergo an annual screening for the signs of skin cancer, it is essential for those who are in high risk groups. Those groups include those with a family history, prior cancers, or those who may have noticed unusual changes in moles.

What happens during a skin cancer screening?

A complete head to toe examination of your skin will be performed to search for the different types of skin cancer. Areas that will be included are the arms, legs, scalp, toes/toenails, fingers, trunk, and mouth. Your physician will also make note of any spots/moles that exhibit signs of skin cancer and may need further or additional examination. In some cases a dermascope may be used. This is a medical instrument that combines a flashlight and a magnifying glass to allow the physician to more closely examine certain areas.

What happens if a suspicious spot is found?

There may be cases where your doctor will perform a biopsy if a suspicious looking spot or mole is found during the examination. In most cases, the area is numbed and a small scraping or shaving is taken and sent to a lab for analysis. There are some cases where a punch biopsy is performed. This procedure entails a larger biopsy be removed at a deeper level using a circular scalpel. Different types of skin cancer exhibit different appearances, and if something looks unhealthy, it’s best to test immediately.

How long does the skin cancer screening take?

In most cases, a skin cancer screening will take about 20 minutes.

How often do I need a skin cancer screening?

The majority of people only need an annual skin cancer screening. However, those in higher risk groups may need them more often, and should follow the advice of their physician. In any case, you should perform a monthly self-exam so that you can identify any changes in moles early and catch it before skin cancer symptoms develop.

Is there any recovery time after a skin cancer screening?

Because most skin cancer screenings are a simple skin exam, there is no recovery time. Should a biopsy be necessary, you will only have a tiny excision are that should heal rapidly and will not require any recovery time.