Your dermatologist can check your skin for signs
To diagnose melanoma, a dermatologist begins by looking at the patient’s skin. A dermatologist will carefully examine moles and other suspicious spots. To get a better look, a dermatologist may use a device called a dermoscope. The device shines light on the skin. It magnifies the skin. This helps the dermatologist to see pigment and structures in the skin.
The dermatologist also may feel the patient’s lymph nodes. Many people call these lymph glands.
If the dermatologist finds a mole or other spot that looks like melanoma, the dermatologist will remove it (or part of it). The removed skin will be sent to a lab. Your dermatologist may call this a biopsy. Melanoma cannot be diagnosed without a biopsy.
This biopsy is quick, safe, and easy for a dermatologist to perform. This type of biopsy should not cause anxiety. The discomfort and risks are minimal.
If the biopsy report says that the patient has melanoma, the report also may tell the stage of the melanoma. Stage tells the doctor how deeply the cancer has grown into the skin.
wHY SEE A DERMATOLOGIST
A dermatologist (dur-meh-tol-uh-jist) is a doctor who specializes in treating the:
- Mucous membranes (e.g., lining inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids.)
Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases. These diseases include skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, and nail infections.
Dermatologists also improve the appearance of their patients’ skin, hair, and nails. For example, a dermatologist can help patients:
- Diminish wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging.
- Have less noticeable acne scars.
- Look more like themselves after surgery to remove skin cancer.
Dermatologists see patients of all ages — from newborns to people older than 100 years of age.