Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. In many cases it can be fatal if left undiagnosed and allowed to metastasize to other parts of the body. One way to determine the full extent of a mark or mole on the skin is to have a melanoma biopsy. Usually, the mark will have been examined by a skin cancer professional who will suspect that it could be a melanoma. By having a biopsy, more information can be gained on the mark and confirm the diagnosis. It may also help determine any possible treatments for the disease. 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 procedures can be performed in a doctors clinic or skin cancer center. They only take a few minutes and the person is fully aware when the procedure occurs. Generally, the affected area will have a local anesthetic applied to it.
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.
Melanoma biopsy is the best and only way to establish the true nature of an unusual mark on your skin. It is only performed when a skin cancer professional already suspects that the mark is cancerous. The information that is returned after the biopsy can inform the doctor about how to treat the mark so that the cancer can be eliminated and never return.
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.