Mole Or Melanoma?
2012 - 3rd World Congress of Dermoscopy
Dr K Fawcett had the privilege this month to attend this conference, dedicated to further improving melanoma diagnosis more accurately and earlier through the use of dermoscopy. Dermoscopy essentially is the analysis of moles under magnification. Doctors from all over the world attended to present the most current and advanced methods of diagnosis and detection.
The naked eye is very inadequate for melanoma diagnosis, even when the mole looks unchanged or insignificant / normal to yourself or your doctor. It is also crucial ALL your moles are examined by this method to ascertain what is a normal mole for YOUR skin. Just looking at the larger / darker / patchier moles is insufficient.
To reiterate some salient points:
- 1 in 8 men and 1 in 12 women in Queensland develop melanoma. It is the fourth most common cancer in Australia for both sexes. Despite this, only 30% of Australians have a skin check.
- the ONLY way to 'cure' melanoma is with early detection followed by adequate excision. There is NO curative treatment for melanoma which has spread beyond the skin. This can occur in melanoma less than 1mm thick
- only 50% at most of melanoma is noticed by the patient and is usually not symptomatic (i.e. NOT sore / itchy / bleeding).
- Australia has the highest rate of melanoma world-wide, Queensland has the highest rate within Australia and Brisbane the highest within Queensland!
- Melanoma can arise on skin never exposed to the sun.
- Melanoma can appear as a simple freckle to the naked eye; it is far more often flat than raised in early stages.
- Melanoma may be pinky/white; not necessarily coloured brown / black or dark.
'CLUES' is a mnemonic useful when examining your own skin:
- Changing - a lesion (spot/dot/freckle/mole) changing in shape/colour/size
- Lonely - a solitary pigmented lesion especially on the face
- Unqiue - a mole that looks different from your other 'spots and dots'
- Emerging - a new lesion , especially after 40 years of age
- Symptomatic - a lesion that is sore, itchy, bleeds, tingly etc
The most dangerous type of melanoma is nodular melanoma which appears as a new, rapidly growing (over 1-2 months) nodule (lump), often firm to touch. It may be pink / white / red through to brown or black.
If in doubt, have it checked, it could save your life!
Annual full skin checks are recommended for adult Australians as standard.
Dr K Fawcett - more than 10 years' experience in skin cancer medicine.
We offer this skin cancer service at all locations.
Please ask about our skin cancer screening services for yourself and your family.