Educational Resources

What is Dermatopathology?

The combination of pathology (using a microscope to diagnose skin disorders) and dermatology (management and treatment of disorders of the skin, nails and hair) is called dermatopathology.

Dermatopathologists are highly trained physicians who examine tissue specimens under a microscope, use the medical information shared by your doctor and consult with him or her as necessary. This personal service and collaboration between your doctor and our dermatopathologists help ensure the most precise, conclusive diagnosis.

Why Cockerell Dermatopathology?

In today’s ever changing healthcare environment, patients are gaining more control over their healthcare choices. These new-found healthcare freedoms are great for patients however can often lead to confusing internet research and tough choices. When it comes to diagnosing skin, hair and nail disorders, Clay J. Cockerell, MD has personally diagnosed over two million specimens and annually renders over 5,000 expert consultations for other pathologists.  Dr. Cockerell and his team of dermatopathologists conduct daily internal case reviews, which allow multiple dermatopathologists to review difficult cases. You, the patient, have a choice when it comes to who you want to diagnose your specimen. Demand that it be sent to Cockerell Dermatopathology.

SPOT Skin Cancer AAD Educational ResourcesSkin Cancer Awareness

Cockerell Dermatopathology diagnoses tens of thousands of skin cancer every year. If you would like more information on some of the most common forms of skin cancer, we have put together some educational resources and information below on how to check yourself. If you notice any changes in your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.

More than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Of these cases, it is estimated about 132,000 will be melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which claims an estimated 9,200 lives annually. The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98%. The mission of the American Academy of Dermatology’s SPOT Skin Cancer is to increase the public’s understanding of skin cancer and motivate positive behavior changes to reduce the incidence of and mortality from skin cancer.


How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water resistant, sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all exposed skin. Broad-spectrum provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
  • Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, consider using  a sunless self-tanning product but continue to use sunscreen with it.

Monthly Self Examination

You can also help protect yourself by examining your own skin once a month. It is often difficult to diagnose skin cancer just by appearance. This is why it’s so important for you to check your own skin and notify your doctor of anything you find. Examine yourself from head to toe, using a mirror when necessary. Look for any changes to existing moles and freckles, sores that take more than 3 weeks to heal, spots that hurt or itch continuously, growths that have increased in size or are larger than a pencil eraser, irregular outlines or changes in color or texture. If you note any changes in your skin, see your dermatologist.


Full body skin exam

Image credit: courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology

Additional Educational Resources

Actinic Keratosis >>

Atypical Nevus >>

Basal Cell Carcinoma >>

Melanoma >>

Seborrheic Keratosis >>

Squamous Cell Carcinoma >>

Know Your Spots >>

Website Links

Find a Dermatologist >>

SPOT Skin Cancer >>

The Skin Cancer Foundation >>

National Cancer Institute >>

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention >>

American Cancer Society >>