Cochise Oncology

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How Do Doctors Do Skin Cancer Screenings?

Up to one in five adults will develop skin cancer during their lifetimes. Fortunately, skin cancer screenings can identify problems in their early, easily treatable stages. This painless, non-invasive screening may feel a bit awkward, but it helps protect you from this common type of cancer. 

What is Skin Cancer?

The skin consists of many different types of cells. Often triggered by exposure to UV radiation, these cells can begin to divide and grow abnormally. The most common types, basal cells and squamous cell carcinomas, tend to grow slowly and usually do not spread. They can become a problem if not treated. 

Melanoma forms from melanocytes, or cells that produce pigment, and often form from new or existing moles. They can multiply and may spread if not treated. 

Skin Screening Tucson

How Do Doctors Do Skin Cancer Screenings?

A cancer screening involves no needles or discomfort. Your provider will ask you to change into a robe, and they will check your skin from head to toe. This includes areas like the scalp, ears, between the fingers and toes, under the nails, and almost everywhere you have skin. While many people feel somewhat self-conscious, rest assured that your skin specialist will make you feel comfortable and at ease. 

What Will My Doctor Look For During a Skin Cancer Screening?

Your doctor will look for signs that an unusual spot or lesion on your skin might be cancerous. Signs of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas include:

  • Red, discolored, or pearly-looking bumps
  • Sensitive or irritated spots
  • Flaking, crusty, or itchy spots
  • A sore that heals and opens up again

Your provider will also look closely at your moles since these clumps of melanocytes can turn into melanoma. Experts often refer to the “ABCs” of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry or usual shape
  • Borders that look rough or uneven
  • Color (be aware of multicolored moles)
  • Diameter of more than 6mm
  • Evolution or change over time


Simply fill out the form on this page to request an appointment and one of our knowledgable team members will reach out to you. Or call our Sierra Vista oncology center to schedule directly at (520) 803-6644.

How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?

A skin cancer screening can identify potential problems. If your provider spots any areas of concern, they will perform a biopsy. This means taking a sample of the spot and sending it to a pathologist for examination. If the pathologist determines that cancer cells are present, your doctor will determine the best method of treatment. Many early skin cancers can be removed with a quick, minor procedure. 

How Often Do I Need Skin Cancer Screening? 

A skin cancer screening should be a regular part of your preventative care plan. We recommend that everyone over the age of 35 should have a screening yearly. Those at higher risk may want to start screening at an earlier age. Risk factors include fair skin, hair, and eyes, a family history of skin cancer, or a history of frequent sun exposure.


*Individual Results May Vary


At Cochise Oncology, we know optimal cancer treatment places the patient first – and our patients experience this every day. Read what our satisfied patients are saying about their experiences at Cochise Oncology.

Take the Next Step

Do you have questions about skin cancer screenings? Reach out to Cochise Oncology at (520) 803-6644 or fill out the consultation form on this page.

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