Screening For Skin Cancer and The Risks Involved
Screening for cancer is often recommended if you have a family history of the disease. It will help in finding the cancer early and also reduce the chances of succumbing to the disease. Doctors even use certain types of screen tests to find cancer in some patients. However, these are primarily restricted to clinical trials that allow doctors to figure out which people have the least risk of getting cancer. But, the biggest benefit of a cancer screening test is to detect the cancer before it begins showing symptoms. When patients receive early treatment for the disease, it improves the chances of recovery and decreases the possibility of dying from the cancer. That is why having a screening test for skin cancer is extremely important. In fact, skin cancer is quite widespread in the United States, with 1 million people diagnosed with it each year.
Screening for skin cancer involves several steps and is not just restricted to a laboratory test. Physically checking the skin can help identify skin cancer early. Doctors recommend that patients check their skin every month for any abnormal changes, which should be brought to their attention immediately. In addition, those people who have had skin cancer previously should have regular skin checks performed by their doctors.
If the doctor finds something abnormal about a particular patch of skin, a biopsy will be performed. A part of the abnormal skin is sent to the laboratory for checking, where the pathologist checks it under the microscope to see whether the skin cells have turned malignant.
Typically, it is possible to detect cancer without having a biopsy done, as skin melanomas tend to grow under the epidermis and never penetrate the dermis. It is possible to cure skin cancer if it has not metastasized to any other part of the body.
However, there are some risks involved when it comes to screening tests for skin cancer. Some of the tests may not be able to detect the cancer. Just because a screening test detects cancer, it does not guarantee that your health will improve or you will live longer. This is especially true if the cancer has reached an advanced stage. Some of the skin cancers do not show any symptoms and may never become life-threatening. However, when these cancers are found through screening tests, they are treated. The treatment for cancer has several undesirable side effects and may not offset the benefits of the treatment. Also, it is possible that the screen test gives a false negative result. At times, the test may show that cancer is not present when it is and this may cause delay in getting the right treatment for the malignancy. Another possibility is that screen test may show a false positive result when there is no cancer present. This causes the person to go through an unwanted biopsy and then suffer from anxiety until it is conclusively diagnosed that the person is not suffering from the cancer.