SKIN EXAMINATIONS

Calgary Lumps & Bumps Clinic

We Thoroughly Examine Lumps And Bumps

A ‘lesion‘ is a growth that occurs on the surface of the skin. Beneath the skin, a growth can be referred to as a ‘mass’. Masses can be solid or fluid-filled. The majority of growths, whether they be on or underneath the skin are BENIGN (not cancerous). It can be difficult for patients to know the difference.

WHAT WE

LOOK FOR

What Can A Lumps And Bumps Examination Identify?

Skin lesions are evaluated in order to detect skin cancer. There are three types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are typically non-aggressive skin cancers. In rare cases, they can spread to other areas of the body. Mostly however, they grow slowly and spread only locally. They can be disfiguring however, and therefore it is still important to catch these early. Malignant Melanoma is a dangerous and life-threatening skin cancer. It can be metastatic, meaning it can spread to other areas of the body.

A mass discovered beneath the skin is most commonly a lipoma or an epithelial inclusion (sebaceous) cyst, both of which are benign. A lipoma is a firm collection of fat cells. While not life threatening, they can create discomfort for patients. An epithelial inclusion cyst is a fluid filled sac. These often drain a cheesy consistency of fluid, which can have a foul smell. On occasion, these cysts can become infected, making their excision more difficult.

Request A Referral From Your Family Physician

  • Patients should be alerted by skin growths that are slowly changing, growing, bleeding, or poorly healing.  Lesions that behave in this way should always be evaluated.
  • On the surface, skin lesions can usually be characterized simply by their visual appearance.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma can appear as dome-shaped, raised bumps. They are often shiny and have blood vessels coursing through them.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma appear dry and scaly. When advanced, skin break down can occur.
  • Malignant melanoma can appear as dark black or purple spots that are either flat or raised.
  • Sometimes the nature of a lesion is not as obvious. A method of evaluation called dermoscopy can help further a lesion further.
  • Dermoscopy is the use of a high quality, illuminated magnifying lens to diagnose skin lesions. Skin patterns and structures that are not visible to the eye become apparent with dermoscopy.
  • Dermoscopy offers another level of assessment. Sometimes sinister appearing lesions can look benign on dermoscopy. Conversely, lesions that appear innocuous on clinical inspection look much more serious when booked through a dermoscope.
  • A dermoscope can guide physicians further as to which lesions to biopsy, which lesions to treat with cryotherapy, and which to simply leave alone. Altogether, dermoscopy can improve the ‘diagnostic yield’.
  • A biopsy involves the cutting away of tissue and sending the specimen off for examination by a pathologist
  • Biopsies can range from taking small skin samples to excision of entire lesions.
  • A biopsy is the most conclusive evaluation of a lesion. Pathology results typically take 10-14 days to be reported
  • While seemingly invasive, almost all patients have a comfortable and relaxing experience

We Can Help With Your Skin Evaluation

Even after a skin evaluation, patients should continuously monitor their skin for new growths. A partner or family member can assist in visualizing difficult-to-see areas such as the back. If a lesion changes, even if previously felt to be benign, reevaluation is important. When in doubt, an office evaluation is encouraged.

Ask Your Family Doctor For A Referral