Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston - Lisa D Hitchins MD : (281) 256-2000
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Importance of Skin Cancer Screenings

Skin cancer screening is a method of evaluating an individual for signs and symptom of skin cancer to help in early detection of cancer, still in its initial stages, and improve the treatment outcome. This also helps in identifying specific groups of individuals who are at an increased risk of skin cancer.

Screening for skin cancer does not mean that the individual is suffering from skin cancer; it is a preventive measure for early diagnosis of the cancer to enable early management of any cancerous growths, in initial stages, and avoid progression of the cancer.

In case the results of the screening tests are positive, further diagnostic tests are recommended for confirming the presence and type of skin cancer.

The skin cancer screening tests generally comprise of:

  • Skin examination
  • Biopsy

Skin examinations are helpful in identifying any melanoma present on the skin. Regular examination of the skin increases the chances of early detection of skin cancer. Most melanomas appearing on the skin can be visualized by the naked eye and can be detected by patients during self-examination. Generally, the tumor takes a long time to spread to the deep layers of the skin. Early detection of the tumor, before spreading to the deep tissues, increases the possibility of a complete cure. Therefore, a monthly skin-examination is helpful in identifying any early tumors.

In cases of any abnormal appearance of the skin, a biopsy is performed through local excision of the skin tissue. The tissue samples are then sent for microscopic examination.

The results of the screening test help the dermatologist in early identification and treatment of skin cancer. Early detection may avoid the need for complex modalities of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy; which are associated with several adverse effects.

Apart from the beneficial effects, the common risks associated with skin cancer screening include:

  • False-negative results may delay the treatment
  • False-positive results may lead to an unnecessary burden of additional diagnostic tests
  • Skin biopsy may cause scarring and infection
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