Skin Cancer tests and diagnosis

Reading time: 4 min

Different techniques are employed to diagnose skin cancer, for example, dermoscopy and tumour biopsies. A diagnosis of the type of skin cancer and tumour is essential for deciding the best treatment and establishing the prognosis for each case. 


Dermoscope. A dermoscope is a tool used to perform a direct, and painless, examination of the skin by observing the tumour’s structure. In most cases, dermoscopes can provide a very accurate diagnosis of skin tumours. 

Other imaging techniques used to assess skin tumours are:

Screen and digital dermatoscope

Digital dermoscopy and total-body mapping. These techniques detect any changes or new lesions during monitoring. This technique is especially indicated in patients with a history of skin cancer who have a lot of pigmented skin lesions. It consists in recording and analysing photographs of the patient’s skin and moles with microscopes adapted to work in computerised systems.

Reflactance confocal microcospia

Reflectance confocal microscopy. This is a non-invasive, painless technique with super-resolution at a cellular level. It is used to diagnose complex lesions or rule out skin cancer in cases where the above techniques are inconclusive. 

Ultrasound on a monitor

Skin ultrasound. Ultrasound is used to study the size and borders of skin tumours in order to guide treatment.

Scissors and scalpel

Tumour biopsy. A biopsy is performed when a malignant tumour is suspected. Biopsies are quick, minor surgical procedures that require local anaesthesia. Sometimes the entire tumour is removed for diagnosis, while in other cases it is first analysed by means of a partial biopsy.

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Substantiated information by:

Eugenia Moliner Papell
Josep Malvehy Guilera

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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