Diagnosing Melanoma

Tests that examine the skin are used to detect (find) and diagnose melanoma.If a mole or pigmented area of the skin changes or looks abnormal, the following tests and procedures can help detect and diagnose melanoma:

Determining the stage

After melanoma has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the skin or to other parts of the body. Once there is a diagnosis of melanoma, the physician needs to determine what stage the melanoma is. The process used to find out whether cancer has spread within the skin or to other parts of the body is called staging. Staging will help your physician know if the melanoma has stayed in one area of the body (it is "localized"), or if it has spread ("metastasized") to other parts of the body. The stage of the melanoma plays a key role in decision about what treatment will be best. Early treatment is important. If melanoma is treated in its early stages, the chanced of recovery are very good. Left untreated, melanoma can spread throughout the body and become life threatening. The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process: