Friday, May 5, 2017

Skin Cancer ~ Understanding Your Biopsy

During the month of May there is a lot of talk about getting routine skin checks, how to prepare for these and what to expect. What is less discussed is what happens if your dermatologist finds a suspicious spot during the exam. 

First thing to note is there are three common types of biopsies which your doctor can choose to perform- a shave, punch,  or excisional biopsy. During a shave biopsy the doctor will use a thin blade to shave the suspect area, for a punch biopsy the doctor will use a hollow tool to remove a circle of tissue from the area and in an excisional biopsy a scalpel will be used to remove the growth and tissue around it. 

The type of biopsy done is up to your doctor's discretion based on factors such as your medical history and the type of growth or spot being removed.

Once the procedure(s) are complete the sample(s) of skin tissue will be sent to the lab to be examined under a microscope. Most samples sent for testing are suspect of skin cancer, but can also be done for other common skin conditions. Results from a skin biopsy usually return within 2-3 weeks and your doctor will notify you of the results. 

Results are categorized a few ways. First being Normal vs Abnormal. Normal results indicate the sample consists of normal skin tissue. Abnormal results are categorized into various subcategories- benign (noncancerous), Cancer cells (basal, squamous or melanoma cells), other diseases (such as lupus or psoriasis) or positive bacteria or fungal infection. 

Your results will determine the next steps in your care, and your dermatologist will guide you to the best solution for your results. 

If you haven't had a regular skin check or notice anything suspicious make an appointment to see one of our expert staff. Early detection of skin cancers can save your life. 

*Courtesy of aad.org

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