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Childhood Melanoma Diagnosis

Early and accurate diagnosis of pediatric melanoma is important. However, pediatric melanoma can be difficult to diagnose correctly.

MD Anderson’s Children’s Cancer Hospital has the most advanced technology to diagnose pediatric melanoma and find out if it has spread. This helps increase the likelihood that your child’s treatment will be successful. Our staff includes specialized pathologists and diagnostic radiologists who are highly skilled in diagnosing pediatric melanoma.

Diagnostic Tests

If your child has a suspicious-looking area on the skin that the doctor thinks might be melanoma, the first step is a thorough physical examination. The doctor also will ask questions about your child’s health and your family medical history.

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if your child has melanoma and if it has spread. These tests also may be used to find out if treatment is working.


To find out if a mole or spot on the skin is melanoma, the doctor will do a biopsy to remove a small amount of tissue to be looked at under a microscope. Suspicious areas should not be shaved or “burned” off (destroyed with a hot instrument, an electrical current or a caustic substance) until a biopsy has been done.

Your doctor may use one of these biopsy methods:

  • Local excision/excisional biopsy: The entire suspicious area is removed with a scalpel under local anesthetic. Depending on the size and location of the area, this may be done in a doctor's office or as an outpatient procedure at a hospital.
  • Punch biopsy: A small tool is used to remove a round cylinder of tissue.
  • Shave biopsy: The doctor shaves off a piece of the growth.

Imaging Tests 

Several imaging methods may be used to diagnose pediatric melanoma, which may include:

  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • PET (positron emission tomography) scans
  • Ultrasound
  • X-Ray

If your child has been diagnosed with melanoma, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Getting a Second Opinion at Children's Cancer Hospital

The experts at Children's Cancer Hospital are highly specialized in diagnosing pediatric melanoma. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions for pediatric melanoma.

If you would like to get a second opinion at Children's Cancer Hospital, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center