Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
Many people may notice a mole or other skin spot that looks unusual, but it takes a doctor trained in dermatology to recognize what may be a non-cancerous mole or skin cancer.
A visual check by experienced skin cancer doctors may provide a tentative diagnosis.
Skin Biopsy for Non Melanoma (Pathology) In a biopsy, doctors try to remove most or all of the melanoma on the skin so a dermatopathologist can fully examine it under a microscope. Most patients have a biopsy diagnosis of melanoma before they are referred for treatment.
Lab Tests for Skin Cancer (Blood Draws) Blood tests are not usually done for skin or lymph node melanoma, unless you are on adjuvant drug therapy for regional lymph node involvement. More advanced melanoma (involving others sites of the body) generally requires specific lab testing, especially if you are on systemic immunotherapy or targeted drugs. In this setting, blood tests can provide a variety of information, helping to plan your course of melanoma treatment.
Imaging for Skin Cancer (Radiology) To obtain the most precise understanding of your melanoma, your doctor may schedule you for different types of imaging tests that show if the melanoma has spread. If you have been screened elsewhere and received abnormal results, we may perform additional imaging, if needed