Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Physical Exam of the Skin for Skin Cancer
During a physical exam for a skin problem,
your doctor will examine the skin over your whole body, looking for suspicious
growths, moles, or lesions. The exam is done using a bright light and
sometimes a magnifying lens. The scalp is examined by parting the
A skin exam is done if you
Early signs of skin cancer are a change in
the skin, such as a growth, an irritation or a sore that does not heal, or a
change in a wart or a mole.
ABCDE rule of detection means watching for:
Other signs of melanoma in a mole include changes
Signs of skin cancer include:
Photographs may be used to
document and detect changes in the skin, especially atypical moles. Some
medical centers use computers to compare photographs taken at an earlier exam
with new photographs of suspicious moles and lesions. This technique may more
accurately determine whether a mole or lesion is changing.
don't have to do a biopsy to see if a lesion is benign (noncancerous). They
may use a dermatoscope to see spots on the skin. This tool's special magnifying
lens and light source help the doctor see the skin more clearly. Also, with a
method called confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), doctors can look even
more closely at changes in the cells and tissue of the skin.
Some experts think it's a
good idea to check your own skin every month and have your doctor check
periodically. People who are at risk for skin cancer or those who are over 40
years old may want to have their doctor check their skin every year. If you
have already had skin cancer, your doctor will recommend more frequent
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerAmy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
Current as of:
November 14, 2014
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.