A biopsy of a lesion of the skin can determine the difference between a skin cancer and a benign, non-cancerous, lesion. The skin sample obtained during a biopsy is sent to a laboratory for examination.
How is the biopsy performed?
A biopsy can almost always be performed on an outpatient basis in a physician’s office or at a clinic. A local anesthetic is used during the procedure.
- In an excision biopsy, the entire suspicious skin lesion is cut out. Excision biopsy is normally done with a scalpel. Stitches are used to close the incision.
- In a punch biopsy, a sharp cookie cutter -like instrument is used to remove a small cylinder of skin. Sometimes stitches are necessary to close this type of biopsy wound.
- In a shave biopsy, the outermost part of a lesion can also be shaved off with a scalpel.