If you’re worried you may have skin cancer, we understand you want a diagnosis as soon as possible. At Central Maine Healthcare, our primary care physicians will see you quickly, answer all your questions and strive to get you a fast and accurate diagnosis.
Screening for Skin Cancer
Each year, more than a million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with the most common forms of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — which together are known as non-melanoma skin cancers.
Fortunately, there are ways to detect most non-melanoma skin cancers early, when they are curable. Looking carefully at your skin – especially those areas that are exposed to the sun – on a regular basis is all the screening you need. For hard-to-see areas, like your back, use a mirror.
Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is not as common as the other two major types of skin cancer, but is much more serious. That makes early detection and treatment of the disease very important. Doctors recommend knowing the pattern of moles and freckles on your body so that you’ll notice any changes.
If you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, including melanoma, or have noticed anything new or unusual during your self-exam, Central Maine Healthcare’s primary care physicians are here to help. We offer comprehensive exams to assess any concerns or changes in your skin, and can refer you directly to a dermatologist, if needed.
Diagnosing Skin Cancer
After examining your skin, your doctor may remove a small sample of tissue (skin biopsy) from any suspicious areas. You may also have imaging tests to examine nearby lymph nodes or an in-office procedure to remove a lymph node and test it for signs of cancer (sentinel lymph node biopsy).
If skin cancer is diagnosed, our specialists will use advanced CT scans or other X-ray tests to determine the extent of the cancer. We use Roman numerals I through IV to indicate a cancer’s stage. Stage I cancers are small and limited to the area where they began. Stage IV indicates advanced cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
Based on the stage of the cancer, your physician will work closely with our cancer specialists and you to create a personalized treatment plan.