This procedure involves the removal of a lesion or area of skin to check for abnormal cells or find the cause of a skin condition.
Skin cancer refers to the growth of abnormal (cancerous or malignant) skin cells. Most skin cancers are one of three types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are often lumped together in a category called, “non-melanoma skin cancer.”
A skin biopsy is the removal of part, or all of a suspicious skin lesion. Depending on the size and location, a variety of methods can be used. Most removals are done after injection of a numbing medication into the area (local anesthesia). Biopsies are sent to a pathologist in a lab, who examines it under a microscope.
Lesions that have been determined to be cancerous can be removed using a complex procedure known as “Mohs technique.”
Your healthcare provider may recommend a skin biopsy and/or Mohs surgery if you have changes in your skin or a lesion (such as a mole) that appears suspicious or abnormal.
Skin cancers can occur anywhere on the body, no matter what your skin color or ethnicity is. They can even occur where the sun never reaches. Some of the risk factors for skin cancer are:
Anyone can get skin cancer, even if they don't have any risk factors.
Some of the signs of skin cancer include lesions on the skin that are:
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any changes in an existing skin lesion or any of the above symptoms of skin cancer. Your healthcare provider may recommend a skin biopsy or Mohs surgery. Prior to the procedure you should tell him or her about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask if there are any specific instructions you should follow before and after the procedure. These may include:
Dermatology surgeons who are members of the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) have had at least one extra year of training after their dermatology residency.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a skin biopsy or Mohs surgery?
After your procedure, you should know what you had done, what medication was given (if any), and what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider. You should also understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans.
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