How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?

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Skin cancer is diagnosed in several ways. First of all, we need to detect it. So, really first of all you can help diagnose it by detecting anything new on your skin or anything but it helps a lot. If I have a patient come in and say to me this spot bother me, and I look at it and say, it looks okay to me, if they're bothered by it.

I'm going to look twice or even three times very closely to check it out. We have this new gadgets now in the dermatologies office not only do we have a big magnifying glass, or something called a wood, which is the old disco black light anything that has shows thick any better.

We now have a gadget called the derma scope. And a derma scope is using a polarised small hand held device at different types of pigment of a mole, and that helps us a lot whether or not a biopsy or something. So, this is the most important part of the diagnostic step is actually taking a skin biopsy.

It sounds horrible, it's not that bad may give you a tiny shot of light line which is like neurokine[sp?] and numbs the skin instantly, and that feels like a little mosquito bite that's about all you should feel. We wait about 10 seconds, and then we take a small sample of whatever spot looks suspicious.

You shouldn't feel anything, we stop the bleeding and put on a bandage, and that should heal up within one to two weeks. So, it's not a big deal to have a biopsy. We send that to a history pathology laboratory were they look under the microscope, and look at the architecture of the cells and tell you whether or not there is abnormal or normal cells.

That process can take two days up to two weeks, if they need to do special stains. So, you should have your diagnosis within one to two weeks of having hydro biopsy. If it is skin cancer there are different ways to remove it, you usually if it's on an important area of the body, and if it's basal cell cancer, or a screen cell cancer.

We do a technique that I specialize in called Mohs surgery. Mohs is the name of the guy who invented the surgery, okay? And this is a way of doing almost a fancy biopsy while you wait. We remove the spot, we make a map out of it, bring it into a laboratory, and we check 100% of those margins.

Imagine peeling an orange, we're looking at a 100% of the margin of that tissue to be sure that the skin cancer doesn't have any roots that are left behind. If their are roots, we take a second little stage of surgery, same process taken under the microscope. So, you're waiting around for a couple of hours for the day, but you know your skin cancer is out.

And then we sew it up in what's called reconstructive surgery. This is all done under local light [xx] it's extremely safe. If you have a [xx] which is an a typical brown spot or a Melanoma, we don't used the rapid staining in my [xx] lab, we do a standard surgery were we take four millimeter margins up to a centimeter margins depending on what the reason is, and we remove that spot, and put it back together right away with stitches.