Diagnosing Melanoma and skin cancer
Melanoma may be first detected during a skin self-exam or during an exam by a dermatologist or primary care doctor; however, biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis. Biopsies may be performed by various techniques:
- Punch biopsy obtains a sample of skin via a circular blade
- Shave biopsy removes the first few layers of skin for analysis
- Excisional biopsy removes the entire growth, along with a small amount of surrounding skin
- Incisional biopsy takes only the part of the growth that looks the most suspicious
- Other techniques, such as fine needle aspiration or image-guided biopsy, may be needed if suspected melanoma has spread.
Melanoma and skin cancer treatment
There are several approaches to treating melanoma/skin cancer. The Roper St. Francis Cancer Care team of experts has the skill and experience to determine the best treatments for the best outcomes, including:
- Surgery, usually reserved for early stages of melanoma and may include techniques such as wide local excision, sentinel lymph node biopsy and lymphadenectomy
- Chemotherapy, typically for advanced stages of disease
- Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays and other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or halt growth
- Immunotherapy designed to harness the ability of the body's immune system to combat cancer
- Targeted therapy—drugs that target specific genetic changes that occur within cancers
Clinical trials may also be an option. View our current clinical trials.
Skin cancer support services
The cancer journey is often frightening, confusing and overwhelming – often involving physical, financial and emotional challenges for you and your family. From diagnosis to survivorship, we have numerous resources available to support you during your cancer journey.
Learn more about our support programs for melanoma and skin cancers.