Because no two people develop skin cancer in the same way, we offer a wide array of resources for proper evaluation of your situation—and we use that information to create a personalized plan to fit your specific needs.
Once a cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists need to know where it may have spread. This is the “stage” of the cancer. The lower the number, the less it has spread. Knowing the stage allows us to determine the best possible treatment plan for you.
We may use any combination of these tests and procedures to diagnose and stage skin cancer:
- Biopsy. Removes all or part of the abnormal-looking skin growth for viewing under a microscope by an expert skin pathologist to check for signs of cancer.
- CT scan (computed tomography). Uses a type of X-ray to create detailed, highly accurate, cross-sectional images to establish staging.
- Dermoscopy. Uses a drop of mineral oil on the lesion to reduce light reflection, make the skin more translucent, and assist in viewing skin lesions to accurately distinguish between suspicious moles and other pigmented lesions.
- Epiluminescence microscopy. Allows viewing of a lesion down to the dermo-epidermal junction—the areas where melanomas usually develop—that’s not visible to the naked eye.
- Excisional biopsy. Uses a scalpel to remove the entire growth.
- Mole mapping. Uses a full-body photograph and digital analysis to identify mole locations and different features as a way to help determine which moles need to be removed; also used to detect new moles and subtle changes in existing moles between visits.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Like CT scans, MRI scans show detailed images of soft tissues in the body.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. A PET scan can look for possible areas of cancer spread in all areas of the body at once.
- Punch biopsy. Uses a special instrument called a punch to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal-looking growth.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy. A surgical procedure used to determine whether cancer has spread into the lymphatic system
- Skin examination. Uses a visual check of the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture.