Medical Dermatology, Skin Cancer

Melanoma Detection

Anyone can get Melanoma. Early detection is critical because melanoma is aggressive. If Melanoma is found early enough it can almost always be cured using surgery.

A thorough self-examination once a month and a visit to a dermatologist once a year can help with detecting melanoma early. During your self-examination check your entire body for any moles or discolouration that look new or different. Make sure to do the self-examination in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. For those hard-to-see areas, use a hand-held mirror.

Examine all areas of your body, including your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails, and back. If you find any spots on the skin that are new or changing in size, shape, or colour, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.

The dermatologist will check for suspicious moles or lesions on your entire body when you go for your yearly check-up. A photographic record of certain moles may be kept, so any changes can be tracked. A full-body photo may be taken so moles can be tracked over time and new ones can be seen more readily. This is sometimes known as mole mapping.

Many dermatologists use a technique called dermatoscopy to look at spots on the skin more clearly. People who are at higher risk of melanoma should see a dermatologist on a regular basis.

If detected early a simple and painless surgical excision under local anaesthetic is all that is needed to get rid of a dangerous mole. Melanoma generally starts out by spreading on the superficial layers of the skin.

Once the melanoma starts to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, curability drops 50% and procedures such as invasive surgery and chemotherapy will usually be needed.