At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we regularly monitor patients who are at a high risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and other forms of skin cancer. We don’t recommend routine screening for people at an average risk for skin cancer.
During a skin examination, we look for new growths, spots, or bumps on the skin to determine whether they might be cancerous or show signs of early cancerous change (are precancerous).
We use a variety of imaging technologies to detect skin cancer, including:
- digital photography, either of your whole body or specific areas of abnormal skin, to monitor changes in your skin over time
- dermoscopy, in which we use a hand-held instrument to see below the top layer of the skin
- confocal microscopy, an investigational approach that can diagnose skin cancers at the cellular level
As part of a skin cancer screening, we’ll also show you how to examine your own skin and identify possible changes. It’s important to pay attention to moles that have an asymmetrical shape or an uneven border, are more than one color, or appear to be growing.
Check the entire surface of your skin, including places that you might think the sun’s rays don’t even reach: the scalp, the soles of the feet, and between the toes.
Visit our Skin Cancer Screening Guidelines to learn more.