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A 28-year-old female asked:

If a dr thought a mole was melanoma, do they usually do an excision biopsy as opposed to a shave?

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. John Fung
General Surgery 39 years experience
Excisional biopsy: An excisional biopsy is often used when a wider or deeper portion of the skin is needed. Using a scalpel, or punch biopsy tool, a full thickness of skin is removed for further examination, and the wound is sutured. Superficial shave biopsies are generally discouraged for the removal of suspicious pigmented lesions since they may not allow for optimal pathologic interpretation of the skin sample
Dr. Travis Kidner
Surgical Oncology 17 years experience
Either is fine: The first step in melanoma diagnosis is to obtain a biopsy of the lesion. Whether this is performed as a punch biopsy or a shave biopsy doesn't seem to matter. The key is getting the tissue to the pathologist to make a diagnosis.

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Last updated Sep 23, 2014

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