The following screening options can be used to detect skin cancer:
- Skin exams by a trained professional. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends periodic skin exams as part of your usual checkups with your doctor. During a skin exam, your doctor conducts a head-to-toe inspection of your skin.
- Skin exams you do at home. In addition, the ACS and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend occasional self-exams. A self-exam may help you learn the moles, freckles, and other skin marks that are normal for you, so you can notice any changes. It's best to do this standing in front of a full-length mirror while using a hand-held mirror to inspect hard-to-see areas. Be sure to check the fronts, backs, and sides of your arms and legs. In addition, check your groin, scalp, fingernails, soles and the spaces between your toes.
The only way to accurately diagnose skin cancer is with a biopsy (the removal of a sample of tissue). Biopsy procedures used to diagnose skin cancer include:
- Punch biopsy
- Excisional biopsy
- Incisional biopsy
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.