If you noticed changes in your skin that you are worried about, you’d go to your family doctor or dermatologist to have it checked out. If cancer is suspected, he or she will do a biopsy, which involves removing the entire lesion or part of the lesion, then sending the biopsy to a diagnostic lab to be analyzed by a pathologist; it usually takes one to two weeks to get the results.
We haven’t seen much advancement in technology in recent years’until now: Health Canada just approved a cool new skin cancer diagnostic tool. Verisante Aura is a pen-like scanner that can detect lesions for melanoma, basal cell and squamous ‘pre-cancerous’ cell skin cancers in under two seconds. If it does detect basal or squamous cells, although they will need to be removed they’re not a great cause for concern; these cells are pretty common and not usually life-threatening. Melanoma, however, is much more serious.
Check out the stats: The Canadian Cancer Society estimated that there were 74,100 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer last year and about 270 deaths, yet there were 5,500 new cases of melanoma and about 950 deaths. Sun exposure and fair skin are risk factors.
This article was originally titled "Skin cancer can now be detected earlier" in the January/February 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!