Skin Biopsy

Abnormal growths, discoloration, or other changes of the skin may indicate the presence of disease.

If you or your doctor notice changes to your skin, your doctor may suspect a type of skin disease or cancer.

Types of Skin Disease

Skin disease takes many forms:

  • Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, which occurs when cells grow abnormally. It begins in the basal cells that make up the bottom-most layer of the skin.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most common form of skin cancer; it involves all layers of the skin.
  • Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises from  melanocytes, which are the cells that give skin its color.
  • A nevus, or mole, is a noncancerous (benign) type of birthmark.

Because it's not possible to determine what kind of skin disease is present through observation alone, your doctor may refer you for further testing, which may include performing a biopsy.

The Role of the Pathologist

The pathologist will examine your skin tissue biopsy sample and provide a diagnosis that will help your doctor formulate the most appropriate treatment plan for you.

Learn more about our:

  • Get your test results through UPMC HealthTrak now in a new window.
  • Learn how you can support UPMC pathology research

Second Opinions for Providers

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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