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What tests are used to diagnose skin cancer?

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Your doctor will remove all or part of the suspicious growth on your skin with a scalpel for a biopsy. That’s when the skin sample is sent to a lab for a pathologist to examine it under a microscope. Most skin cancers don't spread. But if you have the aggressive type called a melanoma, you doctor may order more tests to find out how much the cancer has spread, or metastasized. They include:

  • Imaging, such as CT scan, MRI, PET scan, bone scan, and chest X-ray.
  • More biopsies. Your doctor may want to get tissue samples from lymph nodes, which are glands inside your body.

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Skin Cancer."

National Cancer Institute: "Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cells."

American Cancer Society: "Melanoma Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer."

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman on August 5, 2019

SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology: "Skin Cancer."

National Cancer Institute: "Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cells."

American Cancer Society: "Melanoma Skin Cancer."

American Cancer Society: "Targeted therapy for melanoma skin cancer."

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman on August 5, 2019

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What procedures do doctors use to treat skin cancer?

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