Skin cancer diagnostic evaluations
A skin cancer diagnosis usually begins with a visual examination. The Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society recommend monthly self-examinations and annual doctor visits to screen for potential skin cancer. If a suspicious spot is found, your doctor will first examine the area, noting its size, shape, color and texture, as well as any bleeding or scaling. Your doctor may also examine nearby lymph nodes to see whether they are enlarged. If you are being seen by a primary care physician, you may be referred to a dermatologist who can perform more specialized tests and make a diagnosis.
A dermatologist may use a special microscope or magnifying lens to examine the suspicious spot more closely, a process called dermatoscopy. In many cases, the skin cancer is removed in the dermatologist's office. If a dermatologist determines the skin cancer is melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma, more aggressive treatment may be required.
Learn about skin cancer treatments