A new or suspicious looking lesion on the skin may be an indication of skin cancer. Scheduling an appointment with a doctor is the first step in determining if a skin lesion is cancerous. A discussion of your medical history will help the doctor determine your risk factors. Various diagnostic techniques are available to help the doctor determine if a lesion is benign or malignant. Dermoscopy and Mole Mapping can help track changes to multiple lesions and be used as a guide during follow-up examinations. Reflectance Confocal Microscopy is a relatively new, non-surgical alternative to biopsy. For a definitive diagnosis, biopsy may be used to remove a sample of tissue and send it to a pathologist for review and diagnosis.
Atypical moles or lesions have abnormal cells that are assumed to be at risk for evolving into a malignant melanoma. Melanoma in-situ or Lentigo Maligna is a potential precursor to invasive melanoma. Actinic Keratoses usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Often identified by feel rather than appearance, Actinic Keratoses can appear as flat, scaly, or crusty bumps.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is considered slow-growing causing damage to surrounding healthy tissue but, does not metastasize (spread), and does not travel into the blood stream. Squamous Cell Carcinoma can be aggressive and destroys the tissue surrounding the tumor. If left untreated, the tumor can become invasive and spread to the lymph nodes and other organs. Melanoma can grow, spread, and can be potentially life-threatening if it invades deep into the skin reaching the blood and lymphatic vessels.
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