Your question: Can a regular doctor diagnose skin cancer?

Although a skin exam with your primary care physician (PCP) can be a starting point in evaluating your skin for cancer, a dermatologist is the expert. Since a PCP will often refer you to a dermatologist if they aren’t sure about a spot, it makes sense to go straight to a dermatologist for an exam.

What doctor checks you for skin cancer?

Skin cancer screenings may be done by yourself, your primary care provider, or a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the skin. If you are screening yourself, you will need to do a head-to-toe exam of your skin.

Can a doctor tell if a mole is cancerous just by looking at it?

Unfortunately, you can’t tell by looking at a mole whether it’s cancerous or what type it is. It could very well be a normal skin spot with an abnormal appearance. A dermatologist can’t always tell the difference either.

Can a primary doctor do a skin biopsy?

When delivering comprehensive medical care, primary care physicians often provide services traditionally provided by subspecialists, including diagnostic procedures. One of these is the skin biopsy, a relatively safe and easy procedure.

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When should I get a skin spot checked out?

Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn’t go away or goes away then comes back. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.

When should I get checked for skin cancer?

What should I look for?

  • A new, expanding, or changing growth, spot, or bump on the skin.
  • A sore that bleeds and/or doesn’t heal after several weeks.
  • A rough or scaly red patch, which might crust or bleed.
  • A wart-like growth.
  • A mole (or other spot on the skin) that’s new or changing in size, shape, or color.

What does Stage 1 melanoma look like?

Stage I melanoma is no more than 1.0 millimeter thick (about the size of a sharpened pencil point), with or without an ulceration (broken skin). There is no evidence that Stage I melanoma has spread to the lymph tissues, lymph nodes, or body organs.

Are skin cancers itchy?

Skin cancers often don’t cause bothersome symptoms until they have grown quite large. Then they may itch, bleed, or even hurt. But typically they can be seen or felt long before they reach this point.

Would melanoma show up in blood work?

Blood tests. Blood tests aren’t used to diagnose melanoma, but some tests may be done before or during treatment, especially for more advanced melanomas. Doctors often test blood for levels of a substance called lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) before treatment.

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Can a regular doctor check moles?

Your doctor can identify moles by looking at your skin. You may choose to make a skin examination a regular part of your preventive medical care. Talk to your doctor about a schedule that’s appropriate for you.

Can you go straight to a dermatologist?

Since a PCP will often refer you to a dermatologist if they aren’t sure about a spot, it makes sense to go straight to a dermatologist for an exam. In most instances, there is no insurance referral needed. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends seeing a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.

Can a dermatologist spot melanoma?

Identify Skin Spots

Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are all different types of skin cancer. Dermatologists are taught to be able to identify all types of skin cancer. If you notice anything unusual in your self-exam, call the dermatologist and schedule an appointment.