Test for Skin Mets

Skin metastases happens when cancer spreads from your original cancer to the skin. Sometimes breast cells can spread to the skin. This can happen through the blood or lymphatic system.  

The most common sites affected are the areas near where the original cancer was – for example the skin of the chest wall or around the surgical scar in breast cancer. Less commonly, skin metastases can occur on other areas of skin, such as on the scalp, neck, abdomen, back and upper limbs.

A member of your treatment team will examine you and look at your skin. They’ll also discuss any other symptoms you have.

To confirm a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer in the skin, you may have a punch biopsy. You’ll be given a local anaesthetic before a tiny cutter device is used to take a very small piece of tissue from the area. It’s not unusual for the area to bleed a little after the biopsy so you’ll usually be given a small dressing or plaster afterwards.

You may also have a CT scan, also known as a CAT scan, to check for any other areas of spread. This type of scan uses x-rays to take a series of detailed pictures of the body. It’s painless but during the CT scan you have to lie still for around half an hour. Sometimes you will have dye injected into a vein, usually in your arm, before you have the scan so that different areas can be seen more clearly.