Skin Cancer Biopsy
While basal and squamous cell cancer must be treated, melanoma is known as the silent killer because most people dismiss or do not recognize the first signs of melanoma. Patients who recognize a suspicious mole should go for a skin exam to get a diagnosis and possibly a skin cancer biopsy.
When Should I Get a Skin Biopsy?
Every patient should come in for an annual skin check to ensure that there are no suspicious moles that go untested. However, you can also perform a self-examination and note any suspicious moles or skin lesions that develop over time. You should call for an appointment if you notice a mole that has:
- Uneven borders
- Changed in color
- A large diameter (over ¼ inch)
- Evolved over time
These are the first signs of skin cancer, and Dr. Perri will need to perform a skin cancer biopsy to determine if they are cancerous.
Why Do I Need a Skin Biopsy?
A skin biopsy is performed if there are any suspicious skin lesions found by Dr. Perri. Only a small sample of skin is required to determine if the mole is cancerous and needs to be removed.
Early diagnosis and intervention are the keys to successfully treating all types of skin cancer. When caught at an early stage, skin cancer treatment is very successful and less invasive. However, patients who hold off on diagnosis and treatment risk the cancer spreading to other parts of their body and decrease their chance of recovery.
What Will Happen During My Skin Cancer Biopsy?
Contrary to most patients’ perception, a skin biopsy is a simple procedure performed under local anesthetic at either Dr. Perri’s office. During the procedure Dr. Perri will:
- Clean the area around the suspicious skin lesion with isopropyl alcohol.
- Inject a small amount of local anesthesia to numb the area.
- Shave a small layer of skin to send to pathology for testing.
The entire procedure will take no more than five minutes and cause little to no pain. You will leave the office with a small bandage on the area, and the anesthesia should wear off by the time you leave.
Recovering from a Skin Cancer Biopsy
Because Dr. Perri only removes a small section of skin during the biopsy, the area will heal quickly. However, you will need to keep the site protected with a dressing and apply antibiotic ointment daily to ensure normal healing.
When Will I Know the Results?
It will take approximately two weeks to receive the results of the biopsy. Dr. Perri will review your results and his medical staff will call to inform you of the findings of the biopsy, and any further steps needed to be taken.
What Happens If I Have Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a very general term for a wide variety of conditions. Depending on the type of skin cancer and its location, you may be able to undergo a simple procedure under local anesthesia. Eight out of ten patients have basal cell cancer, which grows slowly and does not spread further than the epidermis. A rarer form of cancer is squamous cell cancer, which appears on the outermost layer of the epidermis. Although treatment is needed, these types of cancer are very responsive to:
- Moh’s surgery
- Electrodesiccation and curettage
Even patients with melanoma, when detected early and treated swiftly, have very low mortality rates.
Skin Cancer Prevention
According to the American Cancer Society, the number one cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet light from natural sunlight or tanning beds. You can prevent skin cancer by:
- Wearing SPF 30 or higher with UVA/UVB protection.
- Avoiding the sun during peak hours, between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Not tanning or using tanning beds.
The risks for skin cancer are particularly high for patients with fair skin, light hair and eyes, and a family history of skin cancer.
If you suspect skin cancer, call our offices to schedule your annual skin examination.