Skin Cancer, Melanoma (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
Evaluation of a skin lesion
A physical exam of the skin is used to evaluate the skin for melanoma. If melanoma is suspected, a skin biopsy will be done. For this, your doctor will remove a sample of skin tissue and send it to a pathologist to be looked at under a microscope. If the biopsy shows melanoma, the pathologist will measure the thickness of the melanoma to find out how advanced the cancer is.
Other techniques may include total-body photography to monitor 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.
Evaluation of lymph nodes
Your doctor will do a physical exam that includes checking the lymph nodes to see whether they are larger than normal. This may be followed by a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see whether the melanoma has spread to the lymph system.
Evaluation for possible metastases (spread of cancer)
A complete medical history and a physical exam are needed to find out whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Imaging tests, including positron emission tomography (PET scan), computed tomography (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be used to identify metastases in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, liver, or other organs.
Skin self-exam is a good way to detect early skin changes that may point to melanoma. A skin self-exam is used to find suspicious growths that may be cancer or growths that may develop into skin cancer (precancers). Adults should examine their skin once every month. Look for any abnormal skin growth or any change in the color, shape, size, or appearance of a skin growth. Check for any area of injured skin (lesion) that does not heal. Have your spouse or someone such as a close friend help you monitor your skin, especially places that are hard to see such as your scalp and back.
There are other steps you can take to prevent skin cancer or detect it at an early stage.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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