Biopsy – The doctor uses a special tool that
rotates and cuts through layers of the skin to take a small
Incisional and Excisional
Biopsies – These biopsies remove a deeper skin
sample, using a surgical knife to cut through the full thickness
of skin. Incisional biopsies remove only a portion of the
tumor. Excisional biopsies remove the entire tumor and are
usually preferred when melanoma is suspected.
Fine Needle Aspiration
Biopsy – Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) biopsies
use a thin needle to remove a very small tissue sample from
a tumor. This test is not used on a suspected melanoma, but
on a large lymph node near a melanoma to find if the melanoma
has spread (metastasized). A CAT scan is sometimes used to
guide the needle into a tumor in an internal organ when the
doctor suspects that melanoma has spread to that organ.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
– This a procedure that helps find out if cancer has
spread by locating which lymph node or nodes are draining
the tumor area. These nodes are then removed and examined
under a microscope to see if they have trapped any melanoma
cells. The presence of melanoma cells in the lookout “sentinel”
lymph node automatically classifies a melanoma as stage III.
– Skin tissue samples are sent to a pathologist for
examination under a microscope. The results of these confirm
the presence or absence of melanoma.
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Information provided by Chiron