Diagnosing Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can only be diagnosed by a doctor, but early detection signs can be from your own self-examination. It’s important to inspect your own skin for any changes in lesions, moles or birthmarks that may be precancerous or cancerous. These changes would include an increase in size, outline, color, or bleeding, and if you detect any abnormalities, it is necessary to seek help from your family physician or dermatologist.

However, when the results and your appearance matter, you may seek help from your plastic surgeon. In addition seeking a cure to your skin cancer, plastic surgeons also focus on how it looks and functions afterwards, since most of us don’t want unsightly, noticeable scars after excisions.

To diagnose you with skin cancer, your primary physician, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon will examine all of your skin to see if any other unusual growths are present. If he suspects an abnormal growth may be cancerous, he will conduct a biopsy. For a biopsy, he will remove either all or part of the skin that is abnormal. Then the sample is examined under a microscope to determine whether it’s cancerous or not.

There are four common types of skin biopsies:

  • Shave biopsy − the physician will use a thin, sharp blade to “shave off” the growth.
  • Punch biopsy – This procedure utilizes a hollow, sharp tool to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal area.
  • Incisional biopsy – This is performed with a scalpel to remove just part of the growth.
  • Excisional biopsy – During this biopsy, the entire growth and additional surrounding tissue is removed. This is most common for growths that look like melanoma.

Biopsies are important to determine the type and severity of skin cancer, so the physician can provide the best treatment.

Determining the Severity

If your doctor diagnosis you with skin cancer, you may have to undergo additional tests to determine the stage. However, out of the 2 million cases of skin cancer each year, almost all are cured by simple surgical excisions and further testing is generally unnecessary.

The diagnosis and tests are necessary for your primary physician, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon to determine the best treatment options for your optimal healthy outcome. If you live by Lake Mary, FL and believe you may have skin cancer, it’s important to receive this examination in the earliest stages, so the cells are able to be removed and cured easily.

'The claims and before and after pictures above depict actual patients of Dr. Johnston. Your results may vary.'