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Weill Cornell Cancer Center

Diagnosis

The doctor will obtain a biopsy of a suspicious skin lesion to determine if it is cancerous. There are four common types of skin biopsies:

  • Punch biopsy: The doctor uses a sharp, hollow tool to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal area.
  • Incisional biopsy: The doctor uses a scalpel to remove part of the growth.
  • Excisional biopsy: The doctor uses a scalpel to remove the entire growth and some tissue around it.
  • Shave biopsy: The doctor uses a thin, sharp blade to "shave off" the abnormal growth.

The Weill Cornell Cancer Center features dermatopathologists who have special expertise in analyzing skin tissue and diagnosing skin diseases.

If a biopsy shows that a patient has melanoma, depending on the thickness of the lesion and level of invasion, a patient may undergo additional imaging tests to see if the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.

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