If your healthcare provider believes you may have skin cancer, you will need certain exams and tests to be sure. You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.
Your provider will also give you a physical exam, including an exam of your skin. You may have one or more of the following tests.
Most patients with non-melanoma skin cancers will not need imaging. If the cancer is very advanced, your doctor may request a CT scan or MRI.
A biopsy removes tissue or cells from the skin to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if cells are cancerous.
A skin or mole biopsy is done with local anesthesia, which uses medicine to numb the area of the skin where a needle will be inserted.
If your doctor suspects your cancer may have spread beyond your skin, you may need a biopsy of your lymph nodes.
Ask your provider about your specific type of biopsy to learn more.
After a biopsy, patients will be contacted by a Markey team member to review results. Further management will be recommended at that time.
When you are diagnosed with skin cancer, it is common to feel a sense of urgency around starting treatment. However, in most cases there is time to do the needed research to ensure that your diagnosis is correct. That may include getting a second opinion.
Our team of experts works together to diagnose, treat and prevent skin cancer, with a focus on individualized patient care.
Markey is among the best cancer centers in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, when it comes to advanced treatment options, survival rates and experienced providers. As the one and only NCI-designated cancer program in Kentucky, Markey is able to serve many patients each year with rare and common cancers, including skin cancer.
Our specialized team is happy to work with your doctors and communicate to ensure confidence in your diagnosis.
Should I get a second opinion?
A second opinion can help to ensure that you will be getting the latest and most effective therapy for treating skin cancer. The following are common reasons for seeking a second opinion after your initial diagnosis:
- You are having difficulty understanding your diagnosis.
- A dedicated team specialized in your cancer type may not be available in your area.
- There may be uncertainty around the stage of cancer.
- You may want to learn more about different treatment options, including clinical trials and advanced technologies only available at an advanced center like Markey.
- Your health insurance requires a second opinion before continuing toward treatment.
Questions to ask when getting a second opinion
After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may have a lot on your mind. Here a few questions to keep in mind for your doctor when seeking a second opinion:
- Is there a chance that my medical problem could have a different diagnosis?
- Are there additional tests I should take before moving forward with treatment?
- Do you recommend any treatments at this time?
- What do you expect to happen if I wait or don't have the treatment?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- How long are treatment recovery periods?
For more information, visit these trusted national sources for a variety of additional educational tools and resources: