Skin biopsy

If you notice any changes to your skin, your doctor will examine you, paying particular attention to any spots you have identified as changed or suspicious. If the doctor thinks you may have a skin cancer, they will usually take a tissue sample (biopsy) to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy is a quick and simple procedure and is usually performed in the doctor’s office.

You will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area, and the doctor will take a small piece of tissue from the spot or cut it out completely in a procedure called an excision. Often they will use stitches to close the wound and help it heal.

The tissue that is cut out will be sent to a laboratory, where a pathologist will examine it under a microscope. The results will be available in about a week.

If all the cancer is removed during the biopsy, this will probably be the only treatment you need.

This information was last reviewed in June 2016
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