NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Melanoma

25 NCCN Guidelines for Patients ® : Melanoma, 2018 2  Tests for melanoma Blood tests | Imaging tests After removing the lymph node(s), your doctor will test the tissue for cancer cells. Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be used for this surgery. Local anesthesia is medicine that results in a temporary loss of feeling in a small area of the body to prevent pain during the procedure. In contrast, general anesthesia is medicine that causes a temporary loss of feeling and a complete loss of awareness that feels like a very deep sleep. Blood tests Blood tests are not used to find or confirm (diagnose) melanoma. They are generally only used to monitor melanoma once it has spread from the skin and lymph nodes to other parts of the body. Or, they may be used to assess the response to drugs that are being used to treat melanoma. Abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the blood may be a sign that the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body. One of the chemical levels that doctors look for is a high LDH ( l actate d e h ydrogenase) level, but usually in the setting of advanced melanoma at the outset. This would be melanoma that has spread to other sites of the body. Doctors may also use LDH to follow treatment response. LDH is a substance found in the blood that is involved in energy production in cells. If blood test results are abnormal, your doctor may order other tests. Imaging tests Imaging tests take pictures of the inside of your body. Before the test, you may be asked to stop eating or drinking for several hours. You should also remove any metal objects that are on your body. Often there are no side effects. Imaging tests aren’t used to find (diagnose) melanoma, but they may be used if you have signs or symptoms that the melanoma has spread. Such symptoms include pain that can’t be explained. Imaging tests may be used during or after treatment to check that treatment worked. The imaging tests that may be used for melanoma are described next. CT scan CT takes many pictures of a part of the body from different angles using x-rays. A CT scan machine is large and has a tunnel in the middle. See Figure 8 . Figure 8. CT scan machine A CT scan machine is large and has a tunnel in the middle. During the test, you will lie on a table that moves slowly through the tunnel. Copyright © 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network ® (NCCN ® ).