Tests or procedures that examine the skin are used to find and diagnose nonmelanoma skin cancer and actinic keratosis. The following procedures may be used:
- Skin examination: A doctor or nurse checks the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture.
- Biopsy: All or part of the abnormal-looking growth is cut from the skin and viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to see if cancer cells are present. There are 3 main types of skin biopsies:
- Shave biopsy: A sterile razor blade is used to “shave-off” the abnormal-looking growth.
- Punch biopsy: A special instrument called a punch or a trephine is used to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal-looking growth.
- Excisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove the entire growth.