- Doctors look for skin changes and moles or freckles with unusual features such as asymmetry, irregular borders, blotchy color or increasing size.
- Your doctor will examine your entire skin surface, including areas not usually exposed to sunlight. They may measure the size of moles or freckles.
- Your doctor may also examine suspicious spots using a hand held microscope called a dermatoscope.
- You should expect a 10-15 minute visit which includes a review of your medical history and completion of any needed paperwork.
This is a good time to ask about any spots you are worried about. Your dermatologist can educate you about what to look for, such as any changes in the size, color, borders, or shape of a mole.
Typically, a spot that the doctor suspects is cancerous will be biopsied and evaluated by a pathologist, who confirms (or refutes) the dermatologist’s suspicions.
If you have a history of skin cancer or numerous moles, it is important to see a dermatologist for regular skin examinations at intervals ranging from three months to annually.
For more information on skin cancer warning signs and how to perform a skin self-exam, go to www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection/step-by-step-self-examination.