At the beginning of your full body skin cancer screening, you’ll be asked to remove all clothing and put on a medical gown. A doctor or dermatologist will then ask you if there are any moles or spots that worry you. The doctor will then proceed to examine every area of your body. These include your scalp, face, chest, back, arms, back of your legs, between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
When carrying out the examination, a doctor will look out for moles, spots, birthmarks, and other pigmented areas that appear to be abnormal in colour, size, shape, or texture. They may use a bright light or magnification tool to take a closer look. If the clinician doesn’t find anything suspicious, the skin exam shouldn’t take longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
However, if the doctor suspects that a mole could be cancerous or precancerous, they’ll take a photograph of the mole for your medical records and perform a biopsy. Before doing so, they’ll clean the area of skin where the mole is located and inject a local anaesthetic. The doctor will then use a scalpel to obtain a skin sample. The process is painless, except for a slight tugging feeling, or pressure on the skin.
The mole sample will be sent to a lab for analysis by a pathologist who will inspect it under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Your doctor should receive the results within a few days. If the mole turns out to be cancerous, your doctor will discuss next steps and suitable treatment options.