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Melanoma Biopsy When To Get A Biopsy

Melanoma is the rarest but most dangerous of the three types of skin cancer. It is potentially life threatening because it will often spread to other parts of the body. This makes it hard to treat and it can damage or destroy vital organs leading to secondary complications. The key to surviving melanoma is prevention combined with early detection. In most cases, if the disease is detected early on it can be treated successfully. Part of the detection process is a melanoma biopsy.

This is often done on a suspicious mole or mark on the skin. It gives more information about the extent to which the cancer has spread and possible ways to treat the cancer. There are two types of melanoma biopsy. These are known as excisional and incisional biopsies. In short, an excisional biopsy removes the mark or mole entirely.

An incisional biopsy takes a sample of the mole. Excisional biopsies are preferred as they remove all the potential cancerous growth. They will generally take a part of the skin surrounding the mark too.

Incisional biopsies are normally performed when the growth is quite large and it would be impractical to take such a large part of the skin away. Or, the suspected cancer was in a delicate or visible location, like the face, and might leave an unsightly scar or wound. 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 removed tissue can then be closely examined.

This is done by a pathologist who will determine if the cells in question are malignant. If they are determined to be malignant, further details will be established. One important detail is the depth of the melanoma. This can indicate the progression of the disease and give your doctor information on possible treatments.

A biopsy is the best way to determine whether an unusual mark on the skin is actually cancerous. It is only performed after a first examination of the mark by a skin specialist who suspects that it could be cancerous. The information returned from the biopsy can be used to formulate a treatment plan for the disease and an indication of the extent that it has progressed.

The earlier a suspected mark on the skin is detected and diagnosed conclusively, the earlier the treatment can begin. Early treatment is key to surviving melanoma.

Learn more about common symptoms of skin cancer and the different type of skin cancers

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