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Screenings and Diagnosis
Prevention and early detection are the keys to skin cancer care.
Like all cancers, it’s important to detect skin cancer as early as possible for the best outcome. That’s why routine screenings are your first line of defense against skin cancer.
If you or your doctor notice a suspicious skin lesion or mole, visit a Henry Ford dermatologist for a skin cancer screening. The earlier we find cancerous lesions, the better the outlook.
Professional skin cancer screenings
Your primary care doctor likely is trained to perform a skin cancer check. However, if you are at high risk or have sun-damaged skin, see a dermatologist at our skin cancer screening clinic.
High-risk individuals include those who have a:
- Family history of skin cancer
- Personal history of cancer
- History of excess sun exposure/damage to skin
- History of regular tanning bed use
If you’re at high risk for skin cancer, see a dermatologist at least once a year for regular screening and monitoring. At the appointment, the dermatologist will examine your skin head to toe with a device called a dermatoscope. It helps detect skin cancer and other skin conditions. The crisp dermatoscope images capture subtle changes in skin lesions over time so we can detect cancerous lesions in their early stages.
The appointment is non-invasive and takes only about 10 minutes.
If you aren’t at high risk for skin cancer, you can perform skin self-examinations at home. Use a hand-held mirror to inspect hard-to-see areas like your back, the top of your head, your rear end, and the backs of your legs.
When you inspect moles and skin spots, think “ABCDE:”
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole or lesion is unlike the other half.
- Border: The spot has an irregular or poorly defined border.
- Color: The color varies from one area of the mole or lesion to another.
- Diameter: Typically, melanomas are greater than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser).
- Evolving: The mole or skin lesion looks different in size, shape, or color than others on your body.
How we diagnose skin cancer
If your dermatologist spots a suspicious mole or skin lesion, you may need a biopsy. We’ll remove a portion of the affected skin tissue to determine if it’s cancerous and what type of cancer it is.
Our melanoma tumor board takes a team approach to treating melanoma. This team, which includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses, and support staff members, reviews every patient’s case together and discusses appropriate treatment options.
Your dermatologist and the skin cancer team will work with you to create a treatment plan that’s right for you. If you need surgery or if you have a pigmented lesion, we encourage you to get a second opinion.
Second opinions and referrals
A second opinion can be valuable in choosing treatment and a surgery center, and we’re happy to refer you. If you visit our team for a second opinion, bring your original biopsy report. We’ll perform a skin cancer screening of the affected area and review the biopsy report. Occasionally, we’ll request a second biopsy.