Throughout our life our body undergoes various changes, from the formation of new spots or skin lesions to alterations in pigmentation and the emergence of fine lines and wrinkles. These changes are usually harmless, however, they can sometimes be a sign of something a bit more sinister.
If you notice a new mole or have a mole that doesn’t look like it once did, a scaly patch of skin or a circular growth, then you could have skin cancer. You can get skin cancer on any part of the body, however, this most commonly appears on the back and on the legs. It is also uncommon for this cancer to form on areas that are protected from the sun.
Fortunately, skin cancer is one of the easiest types of cancer to identify, which means that checking your body and examining yourself every once in a while is a good routine to establish. If possible, get a family member, partner or friend to look at your back and any other areas that are hard for you to run your eyes over personally. If you find a suspicious-looking mole, growth or blemish, then it is time to see a dermatologist – these professionals will examine any problem areas and may perform a biopsy to determine whether or not certain cells are cancerous.
What It Is
Skin cancer refers to an abnormal growth of skin cells on the body and it commonly develops on areas that have been exposed to the sun without appropriate protection. However, it is not unique to this scenario and cancerous cells can also occur on body parts that have not had regular exposure to the sun.
There are two main types of skin cancer: carcinoma and melanoma. Carcinoma is most likely to develop on parts of the skin that have been on show, commonly forming on the back of the neck and the head.
Melanoma is a type of cancer that develops from the cells that give your skin its colour. These cells form moles that can become cancerous and can appear anywhere on your body. In men, they are more likely to form on the chest and back, and in women, they usually emerge on the legs. If you are showing visible signs of skin cancer then visit a dermatologist for a check-up as soon as you can.
A skin cancer check, or screening, is a visual examination carried out on a patch or area of skin to discover whether the area in question is cancerous. During a screening, a doctor or dermatologist will thoroughly check every inch of your body to locate any common signs of skin cancer. If needed, your doctor will perform a biopsy on a mole, doing so by taking a sample of its tissue. This will then be looked at more closely in a laboratory setting.
During your appointment, one of our medical experts will examine your skin, from the soles of your feet all the way to the top of your head. As they are checking you over, these people will be keeping an eye out for any spots that could be cancerous. There are three main types of skin cancer that your dermatologist will aim to find during your screening, and while these each look different, the most obvious thing to watch out for is a dramatic change to your skin, whether this is a new growth or an old one that has recently undergone a visible change.
Prior to your appointment, it is advised that you make a note of any spots or areas of the skin that you are concerned about so your doctor can explore them in more detail. It is also recommended that you remove all makeup, items of clothing and any accessories that cover the skin. Usually, this treatment should only take fifteen minutes unless something suspicious appears.
If your doctor finds a spot that is potentially cancerous, they will then perform a skin biopsy. This is an extremely straightforward procedure in which tissue is removed from the body and viewed under a microscope or sent to a lab for testing.
Book an Appointment
During a skin cancer screening, a dermatologist will visually examine your body in great detail to identify any visible signs of cancer - this process is pain-free unless a tissue sample is needed, however, even then the pain is minimal.
The amount of time before your results become available will vary from clinic to clinic, however, on average, it will take 4 weeks for you to receive your results.
The majority of skin cancer cases can be cured if the disease is detected early. By attending regular check-ups, the likelihood of a suspicious mole or lesion going by unnoticed is greatly reduced.