To help safeguard our patients from possible skin cancer growths, Vanguard Skin Specialists strongly recommends a full-body skin exam be performed every year by a member of our dermatology team. Skin exams are vital in ensuring the health of our patients. By detecting skin cancers early, we are able to drastically increase cure rates. While many skin exams are completed without the need for biopsy, your dermatology provider may recommend further analysis of lesions that appear suspicious.
Biopsies are carried out with your comfort and safety in mind. They are often minimally invasive and performed quickly in the office. Prior to your biopsy, your dermatologist will go over the process and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Understanding the Role of the Dermatopathologist
Following the biopsy of any suspicious skin lesion, a dermatopathologist will obtain the sample for analysis. Dermatopathologists are highly trained doctors who specialize in diagnosing diseases of the skin through careful, microscopic examination of biopsied lesions. At a cellular level, our dermatopathologists are able to determine whether or not biopsies are cancerous, and if so, the severity and specific nature of the disease.
Once the dermatopathologist has completed their report pertaining to your biopsy, they will pass that information along to your dermatologist, who will then relay to you the best course of treatment. Thankfully, due to our on-site lab, biopsies are almost always performed here at Vanguard Skin Specialists for a prompt. However, in rare instances, your insurance company may require that Vanguard sends your biopsy to a general pathology lab.
Vanguard’s senior lab director, Shana O’Heron, shares her professional perspective: “At Vanguard Skin Specialists, our CLIA certified laboratory processes over 12,000 specimens a year. Processing a biopsy on-site in a quality-controlled environment allows us to quickly deliver results to our patients in a safe and effective manner.”
A 2018 article published by the Skin Cancer Foundation highlights how important the role of the dermatopathologist is and what patients can do to help ensure their biopsied sample be examined by one of these specialized doctors. As Dr. Michael Leslie, dermatopathologist and board-certified dermatologist, puts it, “Having an on-site dermatopathologist provides an opportunity for clinical-pathological correlation. This allows for real-time consultation with the patient’s provider to more accurately determine the diagnosis.”
What if Your Biopsy is Shown to Be Cancerous?
A skin cancer diagnosis can be a scary thing to experience. And while all cases of skin cancer should be taken seriously and treated promptly, it is important to remember that 99% of all skin cancers are curable if detected and treated early.
If your biopsy is shown to be cancerous, your dermatologist will provide you with all the information you need to feel confident in your treatment. Depending on the severity of your lesion, recommendations may range from the use of a topical chemotherapy cream to complete removal of the skin cancer through Mohs Micrographic Surgery. No matter the course of treatment, your dermatologist will work directly with our team of skin specialists to ensure you receive the best possible treatment available.
Dr. Vinh Chung, who serves Vanguard’s patients as a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon, states, “Specialists offer depth and expertise that are critical for the medical team. As a Mohs surgeon, I have chosen to focus exclusively on the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. When a biopsy specimen is evaluated by a dermatopathologist who focuses only on the skin, I know that I can trust the diagnosis.”
Contact Vanguard Today to Schedule Your Annual Skin Exam
If you are interested in scheduling an annual skin exam with a member of our team or have further questions regarding the biopsy process, contact us today by calling (719) 355-1585 or by filling out this brief appointment form.
Vanguard Skin Specialists is a dermatology and plastic surgery practice with nine locations across Southern Colorado. Vanguard dermatologists and dermatology advanced practitioners encourage patients to get an annual skin exam for early diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer.