Skin Cancer Tests, Diagnosis, Stages and Prognosis

The expert team at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is here to assist you with skin cancer screenings on an annual basis or as needed.  

Are There Screening Tests for Skin Cancer?

Yes. If you have inherited risks such as more than 50 moles or a family history of melanoma, spend a lot of time in the sun or have received radiation treatment, we recommend an annual, full-body skin cancer screening exam. A screening exam is a visual inspection of your skin from head-to-toe conducted by a doctor. 

Along with regular exams from your doctor, you can do a self-scan at home. Being familiar with your skin will help you notice changes as well as new growths. Simply follow the ABC’s of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry of lesion: Are both sides of the lesion different?
  • Border irregularity: Are the edges notched as opposed to smooth?
  • Color: Is the lesion a mixture of black, blue, red and white?
  • Diameter: Is the diameter greater than six millimeters? (Most melanomas are larger than the head of a pencil.)
  • Evolution: Is the lesion growing in width or height?
  • Feeling: Has the sensation around a mole or spot changed?

Be sure to let your doctor know if you have any sores that don’t heal or see a change in a mole or freckle.

What Tests Are Used to Diagnose Skin Cancer

If during your screening, your doctor finds something suspicious, the next step is to get a biopsy. This includes partial or full removal of the suspicious mole or lesion on the skin to be tested in a lab.

What Is the Prognosis of a Skin Cancer Diagnosis?

When detected early, the cure rate for skin cancer is nearly 100 percent.

Skin Cancer Stages

Staging of basal cell skin cancers is rarely needed because these cancers almost never spread to other parts of the body.

The stages of melanoma are determined by the thickness of the tumor and whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.