Medical Dermatology

Skin Cancer Screenings

What is a skin exam?

It is an annual full body skin examination to screen for skin cancer. It is about prevention and early detection. It is done by a dermatologist who visually inspects the skin to see if there are any moles or lesions that may indicate skin cancers, and melanoma, the deadliest type skin cancer. The most common skin cancers are Basal Cell and Squamous Cell carcinoma. They can be cured 95% of the time with early detection and proper treatment.

Is it really necessary?

Yes, it is recommended because skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. One in five people will develop skin cancer during their lives. The earlier a skin cancer is found, the easier it is to treat, and the better the outcome. Studies show that early detection of melanoma can decrease the risk of death by up to 63%.

How long does it take?

Usually it takes about 20 minutes. If it is your first annual exam, it may take longer as your doctor will want to discuss with you the risks of skin cancer, and learn about any previous skin cancers you may have had, and your family history of skin cancer.

What happens during a skin exam?

You will be asked to remove all your clothing and wear a gown. The dermatologist will ask if you have any concerns. Point out the spots that worry you or that you noticed have changed. Using a magnifying glass with a flash light (called a dermatome), the dermatologist will examine every inch of your skin, including skin that never sees the light of day, because skin cancer can occur anywhere, and melanoma is often found in body areas where the sun doesn’t shine. The exam will include your scalp, face, mouth, hands, feet, trunk, arms and legs, eyelids, ears, fingers and toes. This is because skin cancer can develop anywhere, including between the toes, behind the ears, on your buttocks, and groin and genitals.

She is looking for freckles, moles, spots, marks and lesions.

Some doctors do a full body exam that includes the genitals. If you are uncomfortable with that, ask to let a gynecologist or urologist conduct the genital exam.

When the doctor finds a spot that is suspicious, she may take a digital photo and show it to you. If the doctor determines that the spot requires additional examination, she will conduct a biopsy. First, she will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area. Then she will remove the spot or take a small tissue sample of the suspicious lesion for diagnosis. The sample will be sent to a lab for microscopic examination. A week later you will receive a call from the doctor’s office to discuss the findings of your biopsy.

If lab report finds that the suspicious lesion reveals skin cancer, the remainder of the growth will be removed at another appointment. If the report reveals abnormal cells, they will be removed if needed, or be watched for weeks or months to see if they have grown or changed.

Also during the exam or right after, your Advantage Dermatology dermatologist will likely recommend that you do monthly self-examinations in addition to the annual exam, and strongly advise you to use sun screen every day.

Advantage Dermatology in Jacksonville, Florida is a full service dermatology practice. We pride ourselves on excellence and are devoted to providing the best patient care available. In 2016, Advantage Dermatology was name the best dermatology practice in Jacksonville, Florida, and the best medical spa in Jacksonville. Also this year, Dr. Oliver Perez of Advantage Dermatology has been named the best doctor in Jacksonville, Florida. Come see us and find out for yourself!

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