Skin Cancer Diagnosis

The skin cancer and melanoma specialists at MedStar Health’s Baltimore Cancer Network are trained in the latest skin cancer treatment options and will provide you with quality, comprehensive care. If you have skin cancer signs or risk factors, schedule an appointment with your MedStar doctor.

Skin Cancer Diagnosis

If you are at high risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, you can benefit from periodic screenings from your MedStar skin cancer and melanoma specialist. Risk factors include:

  • A personal history of melanoma
  • A family history of melanoma
  • A suspicious lesion, mole or spot
  • Moderately to severely sun-damaged skin
  • Multiple pigmented lesions

Have your MedStar skin cancer and melanoma specialist check you once a year for any skin growths that could potentially be skin cancer. You may also want to take note of any moles or large freckles you have, paying careful attention to their shape and size and pointing them out to your melanoma specialist at your appointment.

At a screening for skin cancer, you can expect MedStar skin cancer and melanoma specialist to review your medical history, perform a physical exam and even take photographs to monitor any suspicious lesions.

Our melanoma specialists may also need to perform one or both of the following procedures:

  • Dermatoscopy - The dermatoscope is a hand-held medical device that is composed of a series of lights or bulbs and a magnifying lens. Your MedStar skin cancer and melanoma specialist can evaluate features of a mole using this device. Certain characteristics make a mole more likely or less likely to be skin cancer. The dermatoscope allows your doctor to examine the mole to determine if a biopsy is necessary.
  • Biopsy - If your MedStar doctor has determined that the structure of the mole is not stable, meaning it needs to be examined more carefully under a microscope, you may need a biopsy. Biopsy techniques include:
  • Shave biopsy - Performed with either a handheld blade or a DermaBlade. Neither of these requires stitches.
  • Punch biopsy - Removal of a piece of tissue and requires a few stitches.
  • Excisional removal - If the mole is large, your MedStar doctor will perform a narrow cut to remove the entire mole.

Any biopsies taken will be reviewed by a dermatopathologist  for signs of cancer. If necessary, you may be evaluated by other specialists.

The skin cancer stages are as follows:

Skin cancer staging is a complicated process that determines what treatment options for melanoma and other type of skin cancer are right for you. During skin cancer staging, your MedStar skin cancer and melanoma specialist will take into account information from surgical consults, and if necessary, imaging studies.

Stage IA - Tumors are less than 1 mm thick, without ulceration. Stage 1A melanomas have not penetrated deeper than the epidermis .

Stage 1B - Tumors are less than 1 mm thick and are either ulcerated or have penetrated into the deep dermis  layer of the skin. Tumors 1.01 - 2 mm thick that are not ulcerated are also classified as Stage 1B.

Stage IIA - Tumors 1.01 - 2 mm thick with ulceration or tumors 2.01 - 4 mm without ulceration.

Stage IIB - Tumors 2.01 - 4 mm thick with ulceration or tumors less than 4 mm thick without ulceration.

Stage IIC - Tumors less than 4 mm thick with ulceration. They are aggressive skin cancer tumors that are very likely to spread.

Stage IIIA, Stage IIIB, Stage IIIC - Tumors can be any size. Skin cancer has spread (metastasized) to nearby lymph nodes. Metastasis may be detectable only on microscopic examination (micrometastasis ) or on clinical examination and biopsy (macrometastasis ).

Stage IV - Tumor can be any size. Skin cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes or other organs such as the brain, liver and lung. 

Location Information


For a physician referral, please call 410-248-8310. 

Maryland Melanoma Center
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Suite 2300
Baltimore, MD 21237

Skin Cancer at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239

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