- How is skin cancer diagnosed?
- When should patients see a skin specialist if they are worried about skin cancer?
- What happens when skin cancer is detected?
- How important is it to diagnose skin cancer at an early stage?
A skin biopsy is one of the most effective methods used by dermatologists in order to make an accurate diagnosis of or to rule out skin cancer. A skin biopsy can also accurately determine what type of skin cancer the patient has, in the case where skin cancer is detected. The patient's skin will also be closely examined, and some doctors will decide to take digital photographs of the patient's suspected skin tumour in order to document these photos in the case of any changes occurring.
Patients should always see a dermatologist if they notice the presence of any skin lesion whose appearance or pigmentation varies, or when new lesions that do not heal after a few days begin to cause discomfort, bleeding, and/or colour changes.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with skin cancer, he or she will usually need to undergo an operation, performed by a plastic surgeon, to ensure that no cancerous cells are left in the patient's skin. Following this, the patient will typically have further tests done in order to pin down the exact stage of the skin cancer. These additional tests often include imaging tests, such as a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
The other tests that might be performed at this stage include the following:
The diagnosis of skin cancer at an early stage is highly instrumental in initiating treatment. Once diagnosed early on, several techniques can be used, such as photo documentation, digitised dermatoscopy, or epiluminescence microscopy, in order to minimise skin cancer treatment.