Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your doctor can identify moles by visually inspecting your skin.

Melanoma

Because melanoma typically develops on the skin's surface, it can often be detected at an early stage using these methods:

  • Skin examination. You may choose to make a skin examination a regular part of your preventive medical care. Talk to your doctor about a schedule that's appropriate for you. Your doctor will examine your skin from head to toe, including your scalp, your palms, the soles of your feet and the skin between your buttocks.
  • Biopsy. If your doctor suspects that a mole may be cancerous, he or she may take a sample of the tissue (biopsy) and submit the biopsy for microscopic examination.
Dec. 06, 2011

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