When is the best time to biopsy something?

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When is the best time to biopsy something?
« on: 27/09/2011 20:30:03 »
Neil Mcdowell  asked the Naked Scientists:
Dear Naked Scientists,

My brother went to the doctor with a suspicious mole and they said they would do a biopsy, but two weeks later.  Am I wrong in thinking that biopsies should be done immediately, or at least within a few days of a visit to the Dr?

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What do you think?
« Last Edit: 27/09/2011 20:30:03 by _system »


Offline CliffordK

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When is the best time to biopsy something?
« Reply #1 on: 28/09/2011 05:03:50 »
Many asymptomatic cancers progress slowly.  So, a few weeks delay probably won't make a big difference in the treatment.

It is likely that the mole won't be biopsied, but rather will be 100% removed, but then sent to histology.  If it is found to be cancerous, then the doctor will be instructed to excise wider margins.

If the mole has been rapidly changing (on a scale of days or weeks), or he has been getting several new moles growing, then one might consider a faster response.

As you may be aware, there are 3 types of skin cancer.  Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Basal Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma.  The first two are generally easily removed, with minimal long-term risk.  However, they also are not related to moles.  Melanoma is often associated with moles, and carries a much greater risk of mortality. 

But, at this point, a suspicious mole should just be excised.  Under histological examination, there could be a recommendation to increase the margins of the excision.  But, it is unlikely that 2 weeks will make a significant difference. 

When my father actually had diagnosed cancer, it was frustrating waiting for treatment, but it still is unlikely it would have changed the prognosis.


Offline Nizzle

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When is the best time to biopsy something?
« Reply #2 on: 28/09/2011 13:15:35 »
A possible reason for the doctors to decide to wait two weeks is that they want to do multiple tests, and if they would excise the mole now, they might believe they do not have enough "material" to do all the tests they want.

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