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Diagnosing Melanoma at Emory Winship

How is Melanoma Diagnosed?

A biopsy of a suspicious lesion is needed to establish a diagnosis and to guide further treatment. Most patients referred to Winship have already had a biopsy done.

Staging Melanoma

Staging is the process of figuring out exactly what the cancer is doing. The stage of a melanoma is important because it determines what kinds of treatment are needed.

Three things are considered when staging melanoma:

  1. The thickness of the tumor (how deep the tumor has grown into the skin)
  2. Whether the tumor is ulcerated (cracked or bleeding)
  3. If and how far it has spread

In General:

  • Thicker tumors are more serious than thin tumors
  • Ulcerated tumors are more serious than non-ulcerated ones, even if they are thinner
  • Tumors that have spread to the lymph nodes are more serious than tumors that have not spread