FULL SKIN EXAMS
It is important to have an annual full skin exam because early detection of skin cancer is the best way to guarantee the most minimal treatment and a higher chance of a cure. A full body skin exam should be performed at least once a year (and in some cases every 3-6 months) depending on one’s personal and family history of skin cancer and other medical conditions. Full skin exams are quick (about 10 -15 minutes) and painless. During the full skin exam your skin will be checked thoroughly from head to toe, including spots that hard for you to see such as your scalp, back and buttocks, behind your ears, and even between your toes. Sometimes, your dermatologist will take a photograph of a mole to keep in your chart to monitor it over time.
WHAT IF THE DERMATOLOGIST FINDS SOMETHING CONCERNING
If your dermatologist finds a concerning spot, then she will take a photograph and measurements of it or could possibly biopsy it during that visit. A biopsy is a practically painless procedure in which a small amount of anesthetic is injected into the skin and then a small shaving of the lesion is taken. The lesion is then sent to a laboratory where a pathologist who specializes in pathology of the skin (a dermatopathologist) will evaluate it. Results typically take about a week to ten days to come back. If further treatment is necessary, your dermatologist will contact you to explain the diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
*This webpage is for informational purposes and is not intended to be, and should not be relied upon as, medical advice. Any medical concerns should be addressed with a physician.