How We Diagnose
The timely diagnosis of skin cancer can make a huge difference in the treatment process and the lasting damage on the skin. At Goodman Dermatology, we use patient education and various diagnostic techniques to catch skin cancer as early as possible. We have convenient locations in Roswell, Marietta / East Cobb, Woodstock and Dawsonville, GA.
How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
The skin cancer diagnosis process begins with discovering an abnormal growth on the skin. This may be something that a patient discovers during regular self-examinations, or it may be something that we discover during an annual full body skin exam. In any case, part of the skin growth will be surgically removed and examined in our lab.
This process is referred to as a biopsy. With the biopsy, we are able to analyze the cells in the removed growth to determine if they are cancerous. If we determine that a patient has developed skin cancer, we will be able to recommend one of the appropriate skin cancer treatments.
Can Skin Cancer Be Detected Early?
Yes. The best way to ensure a successful treatment is to detect the development of skin cancer as early as possible. To do this, patients are encouraged to check all over their skin approximately once a month. This is especially important for patients who spend a lot of time outdoors or have a genetic disposition to skin cancer. It is important to check every part of the body. Some areas, such as the back and neck, may be difficult to examine on your own. For this reason, annual full body skin exams are highly encouraged.
There are several specific warning signs to look for when examining your skin. Many people have moles and freckles on their body. If they remain unchanged, you do not need to worry about them. However, you do need to keep an eye out for new growths and changes in the appearance of current moles. You can use the ABCD acronym to look for the following qualities:
- Asymmetry: An uneven shape can help the patient and physician identify an early problem. Not all asymmetric moles are cancer but it’s important to perform self-checks and report any concerns to the doctor.
- Borders: An uneven, feathered, notched, or wavy border around any mole should be checked.
- Color: The mole’s color can be an early warning symptom. Most moles are a single color. When a mole is partially two or more colors, it’s time to call the dermatologist. Some very unusual colors, including blue, white, or black, may be early warning symptoms of a serious skin cancer called melanoma.
- Diameter: The mole’s width can help to identify a problem. When an existing mole grows quickly or appears and grows quickly, contact Goodman Dermatology.
Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented?
With proper skin care and lifestyle habits, skin cancer can be prevented and you can significantly reduce your risk for developing the condition. The best technique is to avoid harmful UV rays, which come from the sun as well as tanning beds. Using a full spectrum sunscreen when you are outdoors can protect your skin from this type of damage and reduce your risk for skin cancer.
Lighter skin types will also be at a higher risk than those with darker skin types. If you have particularly light or sensitive skin, it is exceedingly important that you protect it from damage with clothing or sunscreen while you are outdoors.
If you need assistance diagnosing or treating skin cancer, contact us today to schedule your consultation at Goodman Dermatology. We offer these services to patients living in and around Jasper, Johns Creek, Canton, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, and the nearby areas of North Atlanta.