"Usually, the first sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin, or a change in the shape, size, or color of an existing mole. However, it is not uncommon for melanoma to occur on otherwise normal-appearing skin.
Therefore, not only do you need to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of melanoma and other skin cancers, but you should also become familiar with your own skin. Monthly skin checks can help reveal anything that appears out of the ordinary. If you come across any suspicious spots on your skin, you should have them evaluated right away. The sooner melanoma is diagnosed, the better chance of a positive treatment outcome.
If the doctor suspects that a spot on the skin is melanoma, the patient will need to have a biopsy. A biopsy is the only way to make a definite diagnosis. In this procedure, the doctor tries to remove all of the suspicious growth. If the growth is too large to be removed entirely, the doctor removes a sample of the tissue. The doctor will never shave off or cauterize a growth that might be melanoma.
A biopsy can usually be done in the doctor"s office using local anesthesia. A pathologist then examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Sometimes it is helpful for more than one pathologist to check the tissue for cancer cells."