What happens during a skin check?
How long does a skin check take?
A skin check can take up to 30 minutes. This includes some time for the doctor to ask you questions about your general health. Make sure you tell the doctor about any spots or moles you have which are new, sore, changing or unusual. The actual check of your skin can take from 5 to 20 minutes depending on your skin type and the number of moles and spots to be looked at.
What equipment does the doctor use?
Your doctor will use a dermatoscope to have a close up / magnified look at any spots of concern. A dermatoscope is a bit like a torch with a magnifying glass attached to the end. Using a dermatoscope is painless. Sometimes the doctor may take a photograph of a spot or mole so it can be monitored over time for any changes in appearance.
Do I have to get undressed?
Yes – down to your underwear.
What happens if the doctor finds anything which could be skin cancer?
Your doctor will tell you straight away if you have any moles or spots which require testing. To test the mole or spot the doctor will either take a small biopsy (sample) of it, or completely excise (cut out) the spot of concern – under local anaesthetic of course. In most cases another appointment will be made to remove the abnormal mole or spot. This type of minor surgery can be carried out at your doctor’s surgery or office. There is usually no need for this to be done in a hospital.
After it is removed, the mole or spot is sent to a pathology laboratory for testing. Receiving the test results can take from one to several days, depending on the pathology provider.
What happens if skin cancer is found?
In most cases, when found early, skin cancer can be easily and successfully treated with surgery. Most skin cancers are cured once they are removed. Other non surgical treatments such as creams, radiotherapy, or light therapy may be used but this will depend on the type of skin cancer found.
What happens after the skin check?
Depending on your level of risk for developing skin cancer, your doctor may recommend regular follow up skin checks. The frequency for follow up skin checks can vary from every few months, to once every year or two. Most doctors will have a system in place to send you a skin check reminder, but it is also a good idea to keep your own record of when a follow up skin check is due.