Why does it typically take over a month to get an appointment at the dermatologist’s office for a full body skin check to screen for melanoma, yet if you call the same office for a Botox appointment you can usually get an appointment within a couple of days?
Even though awareness of the seriousness of melanoma, and of the fact that it is often preventable, is spreading, these long wait times often deter people from getting checked.
Why does it take so long to get an appointment for a skin check?
If you are someone who does not have a lot of freckles, moles, or other pigmented areas on your body, chances are you will spend more time in the waiting room than you will actually getting screened for melanoma and other skin cancers. It doesn’t mean the doctor is not being thorough, it just means there’s nothing to report, and no news is good news.
But if you are someone who does have a large amount of freckles, moles, evident sun damaged-skin, and other higher-risk criteria, chances are you will be in there for a long time. The reason for this, which is also another reason why many people do not get regular skin checks, is that it is often necessary to have skin biopsies taken of any questionable mole or other lesion.
What is a skin biopsy?
A skin biopsy involves the removal of some or all of the suspicious lesion, and in some cases the surrounding skin or tissue. This sample is then sent off to be evaluated by a pathologist.
There are several different kinds of skin biopsies including:
• Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA): technique in fluid is removed from the lesion in question.
• Shave Biopsy: technique in which a shallow portion of a lesion is “shaved” off the surface of the skin using a scalpel or razor.
• Punch Biopsy: technique in which a lesion as well as some of its surrounding tissue is cut out using a device that resembles a cookie cutter or hole punch. This is used to completely remove small lesions or to sample a portion of a larger lesion.
• Incisional Biopsy: technique in which a lesion is removed from the skin by cutting out the affected area. This technique is often used to remove larger lesions.
• Excisional Biopsy: technique in which a lesion is removed from the skin by cutting out the affected area as well as a portion of normal skin surrounding the lesion. This technique is also used to remove larger lesions.