When Do You Need a Skin Biopsy?
Your provider may perform a skin biopsy on any area that looks worrisome. Because a skin biopsy only requires local anesthesia and a small sample, do not hesitate to have a professional check an area that concerns you. Many biopsies happen after a routine screening detects a distinctive mark or one that seems to grow abnormally.
How Long Does it Take to Get Skin Biopsy Results?
Your biopsy sample will be sent to a lab right away for analysis and testing. How long this testing takes depends on the lab and how quickly they process samples. Most people will get their results back within one to three weeks. While this wait can seem endless if you feel concerned about the results, this thorough testing makes sure your provider can give you all the correct information.
What Types of Skin Cancer Can a Biopsy Diagnose?
A skin biopsy will diagnose all three types of skin cancer:
Squamous cell skin cancers form in layers of skin near the surface. They often look like a red bump or a flat, scaly patch that does not heal.
Basal cell skin cancers form in a deeper layer where new skin cells develop. They tend to look like pearly or waxy flesh-colored bumps, but they can take the form of sores that keep recurring.
Melanomas form in the deeper layers of the skin from melanocytes, pigment-producing cells. They usually have a dark color and may bleed, itch, change colors, or grow quickly.