How is skin cancer diagnosed? There are a number of ways to diagnose skin cancer. This article will shed some light as to how this dreaded disease is diagnosed, the signs to look out for when it comes to skin cancer, and when to see a doctor about them. If you are interested in finding out more about imaging tests and cell carcinoma, you can consult your doctor about how to properly take care of your skin.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer affects a large part of the population of the United States. This is the most common form of cancer.
Skin cancer or the cell carcinoma of the skin can occur when a person does not take the precautions to protect their skin from the sun. Too much exposure to the sun, especially during the hours between 9am to 3pm. The sunlight during these times is much more severe than the rest of the day and can cause more harm than good if a person stays too long under it.
The most common cause of skin cancer is the overexposure to ultraviolet rays. Although it is a common fact that getting Vitamin D from sunlight is healthy, and should be done in moderation, there is a limit as to how much time a person should spend under the sun. If a person’s skin absorbs too much ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays, there is a chance that the DNA in the skin may become damaged.
If the DNA of a person’s skin becomes damaged or altered, the skin may not be able to control the skin cell growth. This will make it much easier for a person to develop skin cancer.
Causes of skin cancer
If you are not aware, here are some of the ways by which a person can develop skin cancer.
Spending too much time under the sun
If a person has too much sun exposure without using sunscreen, they have an increased risk of developing skin cancer in the long run.
Frequent use of a tanning bed
Just because a tanning bed does not use natural sunlight to help a person achieve those coveted tan lines, it does not mean that it is less dangerous. Although using a tanning bed is convenient, and can help achieve the desired tan results, it is quite easy to overuse it.
Many people think that it is alright to stay longer in the tanning bed, to reach the desired results quicker. However, this is a wrong and dangerous notion. Staying for too long inside a tanning bed can damage your skin to the point of you developing skin cancer. At what cost? A good tan is not a fair price for skin cancer.
If you are over 18, getting severe sunburns may put you at risk for developing skin cancer.
Another potential cause of skin cancer is prolonged or frequent x-ray exposure. X-rays can cause your skin’s DNA to be altered just like ultraviolet rays from the sun can. If you have a condition that requires you to undergo x-rays more than once, it is a good idea to talk to the x-ray specialist or to your doctor about the risks of this.
Certain types of chemicals
Certain types of chemicals can also cause skin cancer. Be careful of the chemicals that you apply to your skin. If you are skeptical about a skincare product you want to use, it is a good idea to consult a dermatologist about it first. They will be the best people to inform you about the safety of using that product and if it has the potential to cause skin cancer or not.
Scars that have already healed also have the potential to cause skin cancer. If these scars are exposed to factors that can aid the development of skin cancer cells, scars can develop into skin growths that may develop into malignant tumors.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
If you suspect that you may have skin cancer, it is a good idea to see a doctor about it. Once at the doctor’s office, they may use various methods to determine if you indeed have cell carcinoma in the skin. The two most common types of tests that can diagnose skin cancer and look for traces of cell carcinoma are imaging tests and biopsies.
Before a doctor will order an imaging test or a biopsy on a patient, they first have to look for any signs of cell carcinoma on a person’s skin. The first thing that your doctor may do is to perform a visual test. They will analyze your skin and try to find and seek out anomalies on the skin. These doctors are highly trained to be able to spot any abnormalities on a person’s skin, and identify any telltale signs of cancer.
If the doctor does see something that may turn out to be cancer, they will order a biopsy to be performed. A biopsy is done by taking a sample from the affected area or skin growth and having the sample tested. A biopsy result will usually be available a few days after the test will be completed, and the result will be given to the patient or their doctor for interpretation.
Imaging tests can also be used to diagnose skin cancer. These imaging tests will take a look at the deeper layers of the skin to see if there are anomalies that are not seen by the naked eye. Examples of imaging tests are MRI scans, x-rays and CT scans. Imaging tests are meant to find signs of cell carcinoma under a person’s skin.
Who is at risk of developing skin cancer?
Like any other disease, skin cancer does not choose his victims. However, people with freckles and lighter skin tones have a higher risk of getting skin cancer than people with darker skin. The reason behind this is that people with a darker skin tone have more melanin in their skin. This protects them against absorbing too much ultraviolet rays.
It does not mean, however, that if you have dark skin, you are totally immune to getting skin cancer. There have been cases of skin cancer in darker-skinned individuals, although the risk is lower.
When to see a doctor
It is a good idea not to wait when you notice any anomalies on your skin. Talk to your doctor the moment you notice any moles that have suddenly appeared or abnormal growths on the skin. Your doctor is trained to know how to recognize anything that is out of the ordinary for your skin. They will also be able to tell you if you should worry about those new moles or growths.
If you notice any abnormal growths on your skin, especially ones that you are certain were not there before, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about them. These growths may be caused by the abnormal cell growth that occurs in people who suffer from skin cancer.
There is a chance that the sudden growths on your skin are nothing to worry about. However, if you have a family history of skin cancer, spend a lot of time in a tanning salon or sunbathing on the beach, it is worth your time to have these growths looked at by a health professional.
While it may be frightening to have to endure the wait to find out if the skin growths you have may be malignant. However, there is great value in knowing the truth. The key to beating cancer (any kind of cancer) is early detection. Going to see a doctor and getting diagnosed is the first step of treatment. Keep in mind that knowing is much better than keeping yourself in the dark. You will be able to seek help from your doctor, who can advise you on the possible treatment methods that are available to you.