Best test for determining Melanoma

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I recently had a biopsy done on a mole that came back as melanoma. The doc did another biopsy of the area and that one came back clean. I am curious, should I have blood work done to confirm that the cancer did not spread in my body or are the results of the 2nd biopsy enough assurance?

A:   I do understand your concern. The accuracy of biopsy depends on the type of biopsy done. As a general rule, excisional biopsies are the best procedures for lesions suspicious for melanoma because they are designed to remove the entire lesion. So if a shave or punch biopsy was done, an excisional biopsy is the optimal method for getting the best margins. Blood tests aren't used to find melanoma, but some tests may be done before or during treatment, especially for more advanced melanomas.

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