Melanoma Detection & Screening Melbourne
Melanoma is considered the most dangerous type skin cancer. According to the Melanoma Institute Australia it represents 2% of all skin cancers, but causes 75% of skin cancer deaths. Australia also has some of the highest rates of melanoma diagnosed in almost 1 in 10 of all cancer. The main cause of melanoma is excessive UV exposure from the sun, but there are other risk factors well, including family history and having fair skin.
Signs of melanoma can be visible at an early stage; it may be present as changes in colour, shape or size of an existing mole on the body, or development of a new mole. If left untreated, it can spread quickly with deadly consequences. If you have any moles that are new or changing, they should be assessed by a doctor, who can perform the necessary investigations and treatment.
Our team of doctors have acquired advanced training with identifying and managing skin cancers. When a skin lesion suspicious for melanoma is identified, a surgical excision is required to remove the skin lesion along with a 2mm margin of surrounding skin. This specimen will be then sent to pathology for laboratory assessment to provide a diagnosis, and if is confirmed to be a melanoma, determine the thickness of the melanoma. This thickness measurement, known as Breslow thickness, is a significant factor in determining the outcome. Thinner the melanoma, the higher is the chance of a cure. As they become thicker, they have a higher chance of spreading, or metastasising, to other regions of the body.
Patients with a melanoma confirmed on this initial excision will require a subsequent definitive excision with a wider margin. We also recommend more frequent skin cancer screening for patients who have been diagnosed with melanoma.
During a skin check our doctors at Manningham Skin Cancer Clinic use instruments called dermatoscopes with magnification and polarised illumination, which can pick up more details within your skin than what you would see with the naked eye. We also use the latest digital dermatoscope imaging software that allows us to easily compare with previous images to determine if a skin lesion has changed. This is particularly useful once you have had a full skin check, and your doctor would like to have a spot check of a mole a few months down the track. The specialised equipment together with additional training in skin cancer allows our doctors to have a higher detection rate of skin cancers, including diagnosing early stage melanoma.
The ABCDs of Melanoma
Have you ever examined your own skin and wondered what you should be looking out for? How do you know if a mole is benign (harmless), or a melanoma? One of the most basic ways to assess your skin is to apply the ABCDs of melanoma.
A – Asymmetry
A benign mole is typically symmetrical, and if you draw a line through the middle, the two halves will have matching features. Moles that are asymmetrical may be a sign of melanoma.
B – Border
In benign moles, the borders are smooth and clearly defined. Melanomas may feature a blurry or irregular border.
C – Colour
Most benign moles are predominantly of a single colour, usually a shade of brown or skin coloured. Multiple colours within a mole, including black and blue shades, may be a feature of melanoma.
D – Diameter
Most benign moles are small and less than 6mm. Moles larger than this may be melanomas, although it is important to remember melanomas may be smaller than this when they first develop.
If you have noticed a mole with any of the above features, you should make an appointment to have your mole assessed.
You can make an appointment online or call us on 8840 1410