a. After this testing, it typically takes a few days to review the results and confirm your diagnosis. While our new patient coordinators request your outside skin biopsy slides as soon as your doctor refers you to Stanford, getting your test results can take more than a week as your team is working hard to determine an accurate diagnosis for you.
b. Many health care professionals collaborate in the process and provide expert analysis, including your cutaneous, surgical and/or medical oncologist (cancer doctors), pathologist/dermatopathologist, and radiologist. Years of experience diagnosis melanoma every day means your dermatopathologist can accurately identify critical details, such as whether the cancer:
i. Invades into the skin or just involves the top layer of the skin (epidermis), including a measurement of the tumor thickness (called Breslow depth),
ii. Shows ulceration, where tumor cells push through the epidermis,
iii. Is aggressive or slow growing, which can be determined by looking at the type and number of growing and dividing cells, called mitotic figures,
iv. Shows features of certain melanoma subtypes that may affect treatment
c. Your care team will also determine the stage of your cancer. Staging describes the size of the cancer and whether (and how far) it has spread. Staging is the most important step in planning your treatment.
Learn about melanoma cancer stages »