Skin Cancer Testing
Dermatologists at the PH Dermatology Cancer and Laser Surgery Center receive patients from Palm Harbor, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Brandon, Tampa, Spring Hill, Riverview, Florida, and nearby areas for advanced and innovative skin care solutions.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Screening
Skin cancer specialists do not typically recommend routine screening for BCC. However, if a person sees something suspicious on their skin, which makes them think that they may have skin cancer, they should promptly consult their doctor.
Early treatment mitigates the risk of serious cosmetic damage as well as other complications. Basal cell carcinoma is almost always curable if diagnosed early.
What Happens During a Skin Examination
During a skin examination, the doctor will check for new growths, bumps, or spots on the skin to understand if they might be cancerous or precancerous. After the exam, the doctor will show the patient how to examine their skin and how to understand if any growths have changed.
The patient should carefully watch moles that are asymmetrical (have an irregular shape or surrounding border), comprise more than one color, or appear to be growing.
It is important to check the skin over the entire body and not just sun-exposed areas when performing a skin exam. These areas include the soles of the feet, between the toes, and the scalp.
To determine if a person has skin cancer, the doctor will review their complete health history and ask them about the following aspects:
- Past sun exposure
- Any exposure to other known skin cancer causes
- Personal and family history of skin conditions
- When they first noticed the mark
- If the mark has changed in size or appearance
The doctor will also perform a skin exam and may check for enlarged lymph nodes.
In case the doctor believes that a specific patch of skin should be examined further, the patient will likely undergo a biopsy, which is often performed in the doctor’s office using a local anesthetic.
A biopsy involves the removal of all or part of the growth or spot. After this, the tissue sample is sent to a lab. A pathologist (an expert who assesses the tissue for signs of cancer) examines the tissue sample.
If cancer is detected, the doctor will discuss various treatment options with the patient and recommend a treatment plan based on the characteristics of the basal cell carcinoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma: High Risk and Low Risk
Upon detection of any type of cancer, it is classified on the basis of certain features. BCC are categorized based on the risk of recurrence (the probability of it recurring after treatment), which depends primarily on the location of the tumor.
BCC are considered to be high risk, or likely to recur after treatment, in the following circumstances:
- They are located in the central or middle portion of the face, such as the nose, eyelids, ears, and lips
- They have recurred after the initial treatment
- They are broader than two centimeters
Basal cell carcinomas are thought to be low risk for recurrence if:
- They are small and superficial or restricted to the upper level of the skin, where they originated
- They have a defined and clear edge
- They have not been treated previously
PH Dermatology Cancer & Laser Surgery Center, led by board certified dermatologists, provides advanced dermatology treatments to patients in Palm Harbor, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Brandon, Riverview, Spring Hill, Florida and surrounding communities. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.