Skin Biopsy

Skin Biopsy For Skin Cancer and Precancerous Skin Lesions

Have you noticed a sore on your leg or foot that just won’t go away? Have you wondered what it is? Skin cancers, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma, often start as changes to your skin. Skin cancer can be cured if found and treated early.

Tips for screening for skin cancer

Skin cancer can form on the lower leg or foot. Be especially suspicious for a new mole. Know your ABCDEs. A stands for Asymmetry. If one half of a mole does not match the other half, this could be cause for concern. B stands for Border irregularity. If the border of a mole is ragged, blurred, or irregular, have it checked. C stands for Color changes. If a mole does not have the same color throughout or has shades of tan, black, brown, white, red, or blue have it checked. D stands for Diameter. If a mole has a diameter greater than that of a pencil eraser, this should be cause for concern. E stands for Evolving. If the skin lesion changes size, color, or begins itching or bleeding, it should be checked.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

Those that are fair-skinned, have blond hair, or red hair are most at risk for skin cancer. Having blue or green eyes is also a risk factor. Excessive sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Other risk factors include older age, personal history of skin cancer, or family history of skin cancer.

How are moles/skin lesions evaluated?

If you have a spot on your leg or foot that meets any of the ABCDE criteria, will not heal, or is tender, oozing, itchy, or scaly, Dr. Harris can remove a small sample of the skin lesion and have it evaluated by a pathologist that specializes in skin lesions. If found to be cancerous, the lesion can be excised. Additional treatment may be needed. Getting a biopsy can give you peace of mind that your skin is cancer-free, plus it can provide a definitive diagnosis of the lesion in question, so that appropriate treatment can be provided.

How is a biopsy performed?

The skin lesion is cleaned, then a small area of the skin is numbed. Next, a small sample of skin is removed and sent to the lab for analysis. The sample is so small that no stitches are necessary. The procedure is performed in the office, and there is no need for pain medications afterward.

After treatment:

A bandaid and topical antiseptic are applied for one week. You can expect a small amount of redness at the biopsy site for several days. We will contact you when the results are obtained so that any necessary medication can be prescribed.

What if it is skin cancer?

Depending on the depth of the skin cancer, it may be able to be removed in the office or topical medication may be prescribed. If more extensive treatment is needed, we will advise you of this.

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