Standard Local Excision

To examine a tumor that might have grown into the deeper layers of the skin, the doctor may use an excisional biopsy, which might also be referred to as a local excision.

For this type of biopsy, the doctor first injects a medicine to numb the area. Then a surgical knife (scalpel) is used to cut through the full thickness of skin. A wedge or sliver of skin that includes the entire tumor is then removed, and the edges of the wound are typically stitched together.

This is usually the preferred method of biopsy if a more dangerous type of skin cancer is suspected, such as a melanoma or a Merkel cell carcinoma, although it isn’t always possible to do this type of biopsy.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: April 16, 2021

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.