What Should You Know About a Skin Cancer Biopsy?

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It’s estimated that more than three million Americans have non-melanoma skin cancer, and over a million more have melanoma. Around 20 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime.

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, and it’s also easy to treat when caught early. Your dad went to have his skin assessed by a dermatologist. He’s undergoing a biopsy. What does that mean for him?

What Happens During a Skin Biopsy

When a suspicious mole or patch of skin is found, a dermatologist will order a skin biopsy. In this, one of three methods is used to remove cells and examine them in pathology. The three types of biopsies are:

Elder Care in Sterling VA
Elder Care in Sterling VA

1. Excisional Biopsy – A scalpel is used to remove the entire area of abnormal skin or a lump, including cutting into the fatty tissue below the skin.
2. Punch Biopsy – A circular tool cuts around the area and takes out all layers of skin and the top layers of fatty tissue.
3. Shave Biopsy – A razor is used to shave off the top layers of skin, but the fatty tissue isn’t touched.

Once the skin cells are removed, they go to pathology where a doctor examines the samples under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous or not. When a biopsy is ordered, it’s usually an outpatient procedure, so expect him to go home the same day.

If it’s an outpatient procedure, your dad may need someone to drive him. The anesthetic used during the surgery will wear off on the ride home and make him feel uncomfortable. Plus, the drug may leave him feeling jittery as these shots often contain epinephrine. The jittery feeling is most common in people who are prone to anxiety attacks.

When Is Elder Care Helpful

Depending on the procedure used in the biopsy, your dad may need someone to help out while he recovers. For example, he had a lump removed from his shoulder. If his doctor did an excisional biopsy, he will have sutures to close the incision. He may be ordered to avoid lifting anything or raising his arm for a few days.

While he heals, he can have caregivers do the housework and laundry. His caregivers can drive him around and make sure he’s taking pain medications on a timely basis.

Talk to your dad about the benefits of elder care. If he would rather not drive himself to medical appointments, he can have a caregiver drive him to and from doctors’ offices. Caregiver services also help with appointment scheduling, meals, medication reminders, and housework. Talk to a specialist to learn more about elder care services.


If you or an aging loved one is considering Elder Care in Sterling, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today.