A melanoma test, or biopsy, is the only way to accurately confirm a melanoma diagnosis. The most aggressive type of skin cancer, melanoma develops in the cells that produce melanin (melanocytes), which supply color-providing pigment to the skin. In advanced stages, melanoma can potentially grow and spread to other areas of the body. However, when detected early, it can be treated successfully and often cured.
For these reasons, it is important for everyone to know and watch for possible signs of skin cancer, and to bring any unusual changes to the attention of a medical professional who can provide a melanoma test, if necessary. Some possible signs that warrant further evaluation include a change in the color, size, shape or texture of a mole, a sore that doesn’t heal or a skin-colored bump that is firm to the touch.
A melanoma test entails the partial or complete removal of a suspicious skin lesion, which will be later examined under a microscope by a pathologist for evidence of cancer. The type of melanoma screening test recommended for a patient will depend on several unique factors, such as the size and location of the skin growth. Some biopsy procedures that are commonly used to diagnose melanoma include:
- Incisional biopsy – The most irregular part of a skin lesion is removed for analysis.
- Punch biopsy – A round piece of skin from a suspicious growth is removed with a special tool equipped with a circular blade.
- Excisional biopsy – An entire mole or growth is removed, along with a small margin of surrounding healthy skin.
The Cutaneous Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center offers the latest innovations in screening, diagnostics, staging, treatment and long-term follow up for melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Our multispecialty team of experts collaboratively reviews each patient’s case, helping to ensure the best possible treatment recommendations. In this way, each patient also receives the benefit and convenience of multiple expert opinions in a single location.
To consult with an experienced oncologist who specializes in skin cancer and can provide a melanoma test, if needed, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete our new patient registration form. We do not require referrals.