How do we diagnose skin cancer?
Skin cancers are usually diagnosed through careful clinical examination of the skin followed by a procedure called a skin biopsy. This may be performed by your family doctor or by a specialist such as a Dermatologist.
All of the Dermatologists at Peninsula Dermatology have specialist training in the early detection and management of skin cancer. Unlike some skin cancer clinics, all skin cancer screening at Peninsula Dermatology is performed by the Dermatologist themselves to ensure that you receive the best possible skin examination.
Usually the first step is for your doctor to take your medical history. The most important component of your medical history is a history of a new or changing skin lesion.
Your doctor will then examine your entire skin for any suspicious skin lesions.
Most Dermatologists use a device called a dermatoscope to examine skin lesions in more detail. The dermatoscope has a special lens that allows the Dermatologist see structures underneath the top layers of the skin.
In experienced hands, the dermatoscope improves the early detection of skin cancer and also reduces the need for biopsy of benign (harmless) skin lesions.
If your doctor finds a suspicious lesion they will remove all or part of the lesion for further examination under a microscope (histopathology). This is called a skin biopsy.
There are different methods for performing a skin biopsy and your doctor will determine the best technique depending on the size, site and type of skin lesion.