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Skin Cancer - Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose skin cancer include:

  • A physical examination using a dermatoscope to determine whether the skin changes are likely to be skin cancer.
  • A skin biopsy is a minor procedure usually done under local anaesthetic (where you are conscious) where a tissue sample of the suspicious skin growth is taken and sent to the lab for testing and analysis.

In some cases, skin cancer can be diagnosed and treated at the same time. The tumour is removed and tested and you may not need further treatment if the cancer is unlikely to spread.

In other cases, once skin cancer is confirmed, further tests may be needed to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer and the most suitable treatment. The tests may include:

  • Blood test
    Blood test to determine the blood count, blood chemistry levels, and/or the levels of a substance called lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

    For melanoma skin cancer which has spread to other parts of the body, a high LDH level is a sign that the cancer may be harder to treat. Blood cell counts and blood chemistry levels may be performed to see how well the bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), liver and kidneys are functioning before and during treatment.
  • Imaging tests
    Imaging tests (e.g. CT scan) to examine the nearby lymph nodes for signs of cancer.
  • Lymph node biopsy
    A lymph node biopsy involving the removal of a small amount of lymph node tissue for laboratory testing to check for signs of cancer.
The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth