Does a Skin Biopsy Always Mean Cancer?

Doctor dermatologist examines the subcutaneous when on the patients arm

If you have visited a dermatologist to get a definitive diagnosis of a skin condition, your provider may have recommended undergoing a skin biopsy. When we hear this we often think of cancer, but a skin biopsy doesn’t always mean that cancer is present. Let’s talk about what a skin biopsy is and how it is used for the diagnosis of certain skin concerns.

What Is a Skin Biopsy?

Our team describes a skin biopsy as a procedure in which a small sample of skin is removed for testing. The skin sample may be taken from the top layer of skin (epidermis) or from the deeper layers of skin (dermis). Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose various conditions, such as infections, skin cancers, and other abnormal growths.

There are several types of skin biopsies, including punch biopsy, shave biopsy and excisional biopsy. Punch biopsies involve removing a circular piece of skin with a sharp instrument called a punch. Shave biopsies involve using a razor to remove a thin layer of skin. Excisional biopsies involve removing the entire growth or abnormal area of skin.

Skin biopsies are typically safe procedures with few risks. Complications from skin biopsies are rare but may include bleeding, infection, and scarring.

Does a Skin Biopsy Always Mean Cancer?

No, a skin biopsy does not always mean cancer. A skin biopsy is simply a way to collect a sample of tissue from the skin in order to examine it more closely. In some situations, a biopsy may be done because there is a suspicion of cancer, but often times it is done for other reasons such as to evaluate a rash or growth. Determining the cause of a condition is the first step in finding an effective treatment plan.

How Do I Learn More About Skin Biopsies and Skin Cancer?

Our team at Harris Dermatology in Naples and Fort Myers, FL, believe in providing the best quality care to both new and current patients at the office. If you are dealing with a skin condition that has not yet received a diagnosis, it is important that you connect with a dermatologist to have your condition evaluated by a professional. Call one of our two office locations and book an appointment with our team, including Dr. Brian A. Harris, Dr. H. Ross Harris, and Dr. Keith A. Harris.


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