Skin Cancer, Melanoma
Exams and Tests
To check for melanoma and whether or not it has spread, your doctor may:
- Do a Reference physical exam of your skin.
- Do a Reference skin biopsy. Your doctor will take a sample of your skin and have it tested for melanoma.
- Check your lymph nodes to see if they are larger than normal. This may be followed by a Reference sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the melanoma has spread to your Reference lymph system Opens New Window.
- Use imaging tests to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, such as the lungs, brain, or liver. These tests include emission tomography (Reference PET scan Opens New Window), Reference computed tomography (CT scan), and Reference magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Other techniques may include total-body photography to look for changes in any mole and to watch for new moles appearing in normal skin. A series of photos of the suspicious lesions may be taken. Then the photos can be used as a baseline to compare with follow-up photos.
Finding skin cancer early
- Do a Reference skin self-exam Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window once a month. Your partner or a close friend can help you check places that are hard to see, such as your scalp and back.
- Have your doctor check
any suspicious skin changes. Be sure you see your doctor at least once a year. You may need checkups more often if you have:
- Reference Familial atypical mole and melanoma (FAM-M) syndrome Opens New Window, which is an inherited tendency to develop melanoma. Your doctor may need to check you every 4 to 6 months.
- Increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation because of your job, hobbies, or outdoor activities.
- Abnormal moles called Reference atypical moles. These moles aren't cancerous. But their presence is a warning of an inherited tendency to develop melanoma.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 12, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology