ZocdocAnswersWhy do dermatologists have moles biopsied?

Question

Why do dermatologists have moles biopsied?

Is there anything they can find other than cancer? I had a mole biopsied. I am 27.

Answer

The reason that dermatologists will biopsy a suspicious-appearing mole is to rule out the presence of a skin cancer. While certain skin cancers have a very characteristic appearance, there are many forms of benign skin lesions that can appear similar to cancer; it is therefore important to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer prior to any further treatment (whether this is surgical excision or the use of local therapy like freezing). If you have already had your mole biopsied, then the excised portion is under review by a dermatopathologist (an expert in looking at skin cells under the microscope). He/she will use special stains and microscopy to determine what type of skin lesion you have, and whether there are any cancerous cells in the specimen. In the event that cancerous cells are found, then you will need to return to your dermatologist to discuss further treatment options. If the mole is found to be benign, then your dermatologist may want you to continue regular follow-up to keep surveillance on your overall skin health and follow any other suspicious-appearing lesions.

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