Inappropriate melanoma biopsy warning

Deputy director of the Melanoma Institute Australia, Associate Professor Jonathan Stretch, said he was concerned about a number of patients referred to the institute for management of melanoma where the primary tumour biopsy was incomplete as a result of a punch, shave or subtotal biopsy procedure. 

Such biopsies often underestimate the microstaging of the primary melanoma and potentially complicate the discussion regarding ongoing management and the possible need for sentinel node biopsy, according to Professor Stretch. 

Even if the vast majority of clinicians were doing excision biopsies, every year they were still seeing what he and his colleagues considered to be inappropriate subtotal biopsies. 

“I am seeing this in a proportion, hopefully a small proportion of cases, and hopefully we can reduce that,” Professor Stretch said, adding that the cases were not restricted to GPs. 

The recommended method for