Searches

Medline was searched for the period 1966 to end of 2001. Citations found in review articles and other main articles found were also scrutinised for additional evidence.

Occasionally pigmented lesions that are clinically suspicious of being an MM may be considered to be too large or in a difficult anatomical site for complete immediate excision without extensive surgery. There is therefore a dilemma for the clinician as to whether an incisional biopsy of the lesion may be needed to confirm the diagnosis before more extensive surgery. Also, providing the biopsy is taken from a representative area of the melanoma, an incisional biopsy provides an indication of the depth of invasion of the lesion, thereby assisting the planning of the next course of appropriate treatment. There is some concern based on empirical reasoning that taking a biopsy of part of a malignant lesion might release some malignant cells into the bloodstream and local tissues, thereby worsening the eventual prognosis for that person.

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