If you have a change on the skin, the doctor must find out whether it is due to cancer or to some other cause. Your doctor removes all or part of the area that looks abnormal. The sample goes to a lab. A pathologist checks the sample under a microscope. This is a biopsy. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose skin cancer.
You may have the biopsy in a doctor’s office or as an outpatient in a clinic or hospital. Where it is done depends on the size and place of the abnormal area on your skin. You probably will have local anesthesia.
The biopsy results will make it possible for the doctor to determine the type of cancer. This impacts the treatments that are available to you. It can also play a part in staging of the skin cancer.