Skin Cancer Tests

Skin cancer is a disease that is challenging to accurately diagnose and stage. City of Hope’s team of internationally trained dermatologists and dermatopathologists use their clinical experience and expertise, and leading-edge technology, to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis — and the most effective treatment.

This powerful combination of experience, technology and talent is why City of Hope is known for transforming melanoma patients with advanced disease and dire diagnoses into survivors.

Tests to Diagnose Skin Cancer

Skin exam, the first test to diagnose skin cancer, is a thorough check of the skin for moles, spots or bumps that appear to be abnormal.

Skin biopsy involves removing tissue that appears abnormal to be viewed later under a microscope by a pathologist. There are several types of skin biopsy, including:           

  • Shave biopsy, used to remove the abnormal growth using a razor blade.
  • Punch biopsy uses a special round instrument to remove a circular tissue sample.
  • Incisional biopsy involves removing a section of an abnormal growth.
  • Excisional biopsy involves removing all of an abnormal growth.                                    

Molecular Testing

Determining whether a growth is benign or cancerous is a subtle process, requiring a trained eye and deep experience. As part of the diagnostic process, our specially trained dermatopathologist performs wide-ranging molecular testing of most melanomas, for the most accurate diagnosis.

Testing for specific mutations — such as BRAF and KIT — may also be performed by molecular pathologists, leading to more specific and individualized treatment options.