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Melanoma Biopsy - When To Get A Biopsy.

Apr 19, 2008
Of the three types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious. It is more common for melanoma to spread to other parts of the body. When this occurs it gets hard to treat the body and rid it of the cancer. This is why prevention and early detection are key to surviving melanoma. A way to establish the full extent of a suspicious looking mole or mark on the skin is to have a melanoma biopsy. This is often done after a first consultation with a skin cancer professional and confirms the initial diagnosis. It can also provide information on the spread of the cancer and possible treatment.

The aim of the biopsy is to take a sample of the suspicious tissue for a more rigorous diagnosis. This can be done by completely removing all the suspicious tissue. This is called a excisional biopsy. The other method is to take a small sample of the suspicious tissue leaving the rest intact on the skin. This is known as incisional biopsy.

Incisional biopsies are generally only used on sensitive parts of the body, like the face, where a large wound or scar may cause further distress. Excisional biopsies are used in most other cases. They are preferred because they remove all the growth. This makes sense because if the growth is diagnosed as cancerous it would have to be removed anyway.

Both of these processes can be done at your doctors surgery or at the skin cancer center. It will normally take around thirty minutes depending on the size and position of the suspicious growth. A local anesthetic is applied to the part of the skin where the biopsy will be performed..

The potentially cancerous cells that have been removed are sent to a pathologist. The pathologist will test the cells and determine whether they are cancerous. He/she will relay this information to your doctor, along with the extent or depth of the cancerous tissues. This will help the doctor to formulate possible treatments for the melanoma.

Getting a melanoma biopsy is the best way to confirm the true extent of a suspicious mark or mole. It is only done after an initial consultation with a skin care specialist. The details that are returned from the biopsy are used to understand how far the cancer has progressed and the best way to treat the disease.

Early and conclusive detection of melanoma growths are vital to treating the disease effectively. If found early, the tissues can be cut out. If it has spread then aggressive cancer treatments may be required.
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