Many patients wonder whether certain skin lesions should be removed or checked for cancer. It is not feasible to remove all skin lesions on every patient. There are however, guidelines to determine whether a skin lesion is of concern. Some patients have moles or other skin lesions that are cosmetically unacceptable and will have these lesions removed to improve appearance. Besides cosmetic considerations, biopsy evaluations are indicated for the following reasons:

1) a new skin lesion that does not heal

2) a skin lesion that bleeds or ulcerates

3) a skin lesion that is growing, thereby changing size and shape

4) a skin lesion with irregular or blurred margins

5) a skin lesion that is hard to visually follow (i.e. a lesion on the scalp)

6) a large lesion greater than 5mm.

Your surgeon may elect to completely remove a small lesion or obtain a partial removal of a larger lesion in order to do a biopsy. Remember, the only way to obtain results regarding a skin lesion's behavior and malignancy status is to obtain a specimen for microscopic evaluation. Your physician will determine needed additional therapy if the results of the biopsy are cancerous. Fortunately, most skin lesions are benign. It is important however, to avoid sun exposure and tanning salons. Sunscreens and dermatological evaluations are recommended.

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Torrance, CA 90505