What is Skin Screening?

A skin screening, also known as a skin exam, is a visual exam of the skin that is performed by a dermatologist such as Dr. Beach. During this screening, she will check your skin for moles, birthmarks, or other marks that may be unusual in size, shape, color, or texture, and help rule out signs of skin cancer. You will be given an assessment of your skin and your moles, and information on a preferred interval to get your skin re-screened. Individuals who have certain risk factors for skin cancer include those who spend a significant amount of time outdoors in the sun, either through their occupations or through their leisure activities.  Others with a pale skin tone, red or blonde hair, skin that freckles or burns easily, a history of sunburns, a large number of moles, or a family history of skin cancer, may also benefit from skin assessment.

Who is a Good Candidate for Skin Screening?

All ages of people can benefit from skin screenings.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with skin cancer can benefit from skin cancer treatment. The best way to determine if you can benefit from this service is to discuss your skin with your family doctor or nurse practitioner to identify any concerns you may have or changes you have noticed.  You may also contact our office to learn how to schedule a consultation at DermAtelier on Avenue with Dr. Beach

Skin examination with Dermoscopy

For this form of analysis, Dr. Beach uses a tool that contains polarized light with microscopy to determine the ultrastructures, pigment networks, and vascular patterns of your nevus. Analysis of these features can be helpful in determining regular mole features and more concerning mole patterns that require further investigation.

If you are screening yourself at home before a dermatology visit, be sure to check for signs of skin cancer. An easy way to remember which signs to look for is to think of “ABCDE”, which stands for:

Asymmetry: A mole with an odd shape, or with a half that does not match the other half.

Border: The border of the mole is irregular or jagged.

Colour: The colour of the mole is uneven or the mole is multiple colours.

Diameter: The mole is larger in size than 6 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser.

Evolution: The mole has changed in color, shape, or size over time.

While none of these factors are always important or a sign of skin cancer, they are a starting point from which to identify moles or skin lesions that can then be checked at DermAtelier on Avenue

Skin Cancer Treatment Options

When it comes to treating skin cancer, there are a variety of treatment options to choose from. Dr. Beach will work with you to determine which treatment option works best to treat your form of skin cancer. These options include:


Some early skin cancers can be destroyed with cryosurgery. This involves freezing the cancer with liquid nitrogen. The dead tissue will then slough away when it thaws.

Curettage and Electrodesiccation

Dr. Beach will remove the surface of the skin cancer using a scraping instrument called a curette. An electric needle will then be used to sear and destroy the base of the cancer.  This procedure may be performed on skin cancer at the arms or legs or torso depending on its size and characteristics. 

Excisional Surgery

This form of treatment can be used on all types of skin cancer. Dr. Beach will cut out the cancerous tissue and a surrounding area of healthy skin to ensure all cancer cells are removed.

Mohs Surgery

When appropriate, you will be deemed a candidate for this procedure. Mohs Surgery is performed in the hospital for basal cell or squamous cell cancer by removing thin layers of skin. Dermatologist colleagues will examine each layer under a microscope until all abnormal cells are removed.

What to Expect After Skin Cancer Treatment?

When test results show that skin cancer cells are fully removed during skin cancer treatment, no further immediate treatment action is required. We do, however, recommend that you take the following steps to protect your skin from the sun:

  • Avoid using tanning beds.
  • Wear sunscreen year-round with SPF 30+.
  • Avoid spending time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Seek shaded areas (awnings, umbrellas) when outdoors.
  • Wear protective clothing including sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses when spending time in the sun. 
  • Purchase UPF 50+ (UV Protective Fabric of sufficient rating 50+) to protect the skin when outdoors.

Contact Us Today

If you are interested in learning more about skin screening at DermAtelier on Avenue, contact us today! We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have, as well as help you to schedule your consultation

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age does skin cancer typically occur?

It can occur at any age but usually age 50s and beyond.

Can a dermatologist tell if you have skin cancer?

Yes, they can tell clinically or with a biopsy.

Can a dry patch of skin be cancer?

It is unlikely, but would still be assessed by a dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis.

Can a skin cancer look like a pimple?

Yes, it can particularly if it doesnt go away in the expected period of time or it bleeds.

Can you have skin cancer for years and not know?

Yes, some skin cancers like basal cell cancer are mild and people do not realize they have it.

Can you spread skin cancer by picking it?

No, this does not occur.

Do you see an oncologist for skin cancer?

Sometimes, if the skin cancer is advanced, or is a form of squamous cell cancer or melanoma, an oncologist provides treatment

Does skin cancer hurt to the touch?

It can hurt, but overall this feature is uncommon.

How do dermatologists remove skin cancer?

We generally cut them out using a blade to excise the site of skin cancer.

How do doctors check for skin cancer?

They examine your skin visually and also use a dermatoscope that allows magnified visualization using polarised light.

How do they remove skin cancer from scalp?

The scalp is anaesthetized and the site is cut out / excised.

How does skin cancer start?

Many factors are involved such as sun exposure with sunburn, skin injury or a non-healing wound, or genetic factors.

Is Skin Cancer raised or flat?

It can be both, raised/ bumpy or flat/ smooth.

Is Skin Cancer slow growing?

Basal cell cancer is slow growing, squamous cell and melanoma are faster growing.

What are the odds of surviving skin cancer?

It depends on the type of skin cancer. Survival rates are highest for Basal Cell Cancer.

What are first signs of skin cancer?

The first signs can range from a new spot, to an existing spot that has undergone a change like bleeding.

What are the signs of skin cancer on the scalp?

Scalp skin cancers can show as a bleeding mole or changed mole, a new shiny bump, or a sore that will not heal.

What do the early stages of skin cancer look like?

Early stage appearances can range from a bleeding mole or changes in an existing mole, or a new shiny bump, or a sore that will not heal.

What skin cancer looks like when it starts?

Bleeding mole or changed mole or new shiny bump can all be features of skin cancer that is starting or forming.

What happens if skin cancer goes undetected?

It can grow or spread locally or sometimes remotely (metastasis)

Should skin cancer be removed?

Yes, it can be treated with liquid nitrogen or prescription cream or surgical removal or radiation.

Is there a difference between skin cancer and melanoma?

Yes, skin cancer is a general term while melanoma is a specific type of skin cancer.

What happens if you have skin cancer?

You will see the dermatologist to get it diagnosed and treated. Treatment may occur with the dermatologist, plastic surgeon, surgical oncologist, medical oncologist or radiation oncologist.

What happens if you leave skin cancer untreated?

It can grow or spread if left untreated.

What really causes skin cancer?

Many factors cause skin cancer - sun exposure with sunburn; skin injury or non healing wound; genetic factor; having immunosuppressive medication long-term after an organ transplant.

Why is skin cancer prevention important?

Prevention helps to avoid the development of sun damage that can then cause skin cancer years later.

Where is skin cancer most commonly found on the body?

Basal cell cancer (BCCa) is the most common form of skin cancer.

What Skin Cancer Looks Like?

Its appearance varies and can range from a red flaky patch to pearly bump to open sore to brown black patch or bump.

How long does it take to remove skin cancer?

To remove skin cancer, surgical excision can be a short procedure (5 minutes), or an extensive procedure (hours/ Mohs Surgery).

How long after sunburn does skin cancer develop?

This can occur years/ decades later.

How is skin cancer prevented?

Avoid sun exposure and sun burns; wear a hat with 5cm brim and sunscreen SPF 30+ and UPF 50+ clothing during daytime hours/ for sun exposure.

How fast does skin cancer spread?

It depends on the type of skin cancer. Melanoma spreads the fastest.

How common is non melanoma skin cancer?

It is the majority of skin cancers and also known as keratinized skin cancer like basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer.

Does sunscreen stop skin cancer?

It helps prevent sun damage to the skin that could eventually develop skin cancer years later.

Can skin cancer kill you?

Sometimes, yes. Melanoma has the highest rate of mortality (death).

Can skin cancer go away by itself?

Generally, no. It requires treatment of some form - surgical or radiation or chemotherapy.

Can laser remove skin cancer?

This is being investigated but it is not common practice at this time.

Can skin cancer show up suddenly?

It may go unnoticed for years but generally does not occur suddenly.

Does skin cancer show up in blood work?

No, it does not show up in blood tests.

How can you tell if a spot is skin cancer?

One cannot reliably tell; see your doctor or dermatologist to receive a diagnosis.



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