In order to assess any growths or changes in your skin, your doctor or a specialist in skin conditions (dermatologist) will conduct a medical history and exam.

History and general exam

Your doctor will conduct a general physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history, changes in your skin, or any other signs or symptoms you've experienced.

Questions may include:

  • When did you first notice this skin growth or lesion?
  • Has it changed since you first noticed it?
  • Is the growth or lesion painful?
  • Do you have any other growths or lesions that concern you?
  • Have you had a previous skin cancer?
  • Has anyone in your family had skin cancer? What kind?
  • Do you take precautions to stay safe in the sun, such as avoiding midday sun and using sunscreen?
  • Do you examine your own skin on a regular basis?

Skin exam

Your doctor will examine not only the suspicious area on your skin but also the rest of your body for other lesions.

Skin sample for testing

Your doctor may do a skin biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of a lesion for testing in a laboratory. This will reveal whether you have skin cancer and, if so, what type of skin cancer. The type of skin biopsy you undergo will depend on the type and size of the lesion.