If you have a suspicious mole, lump, or blemish on your skin, your dermatologist will likely want to take a skin biopsy from the suspect area. This is a very important procedure. It removes a small amount of the questionable tissue so that it can be examined, usually under a microscope by a dermatopathologist. This examination reveals if there is cancer present, and if so, what kind.
Is it Cancer?
This is the first thing everyone – including your doctor – wants to know. If it turns out that the tissue is benign (cancer-free), it may not need any further treatment. If the result is inconclusive, another biopsy sample will usually be sought. This sample may be tested differently, or sent to a different lab, to get more certain results.
If it’s Cancer, then What?
Getting a yes-or-no answer isn’t enough to begin effective skin cancer treatment. Different types of skin cancer require different treatments for maximum effectiveness. Treatment options include surgical removal, Mohs surgery, topical prescription medications, laser treatment, and
Photodynamic therapy, to name a few.
Other Possible Biopsy Results
Occasionally, your biopsy results will show something other than positive, negative, or inclusive. The tested cells may turn out to be “precancerous.” Precancerous cells are abnormal but are still considered benign. These cells have a higher-than-normal chance of becoming cancerous and need to be treated.
Does it Hurt to Get a Skin Biopsy?
The area to be biopsied is numbed before the sample is taken, so the biopsy itself will not hurt. The injection of numbing agent may sting a bit, but this will stop once the agent kicks in.
Once the numbing wears off, there may be minimal to moderate pain depending on how deep the biopsy was, how wide, and what part of the skin was sampled. In any case, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable for long. Your dermatologist will give you instructions for taking care of the biopsy site so that it heals quickly and doesn’t get infected.
Where to Get a Skin Biopsy Done
Typically, this procedure is done at a dermatology office, which then sends the sample to a lab. It’s essential that you have a regular full-body skin examination so that any skin cancer is detected early.
If you have a suspicious growth or mark on your skin and are in the Fresno, CA, area, request an appointment at Valley Skin Institute immediately. Don’t wait. We’ll help you solve the mystery of what’s going on and advise you on your next steps.