Moles (also called naevi) are usually harmless collections of pigmented cells called melanocytes in the skin. It can be important for patients (especially those at higher risk) to become familiar with the moles on their skin so as to be able to detect changes .
Melanomas also derived from melanocytes, but in the case of melanoma, these cells are cancerous. They have potential for spreading both locally, and systemically (metastases). Melanomas can occur in adults of all ages, but thankfully, these days, tumours are detected early and the cure rate is high.
Dermoscopy, or epiluminescence microscopy, is a noninvasive device that assists in improving the diagnostic accuracy when examining moles and other skin lesions. It allows the in vivo evaluation of colors and microstructures of the epidermis, the dermoepidermal junction, and the papillary dermis not visible to the naked eye.
The combination of clinical acumen, dermoscopy and photography reduces the likelihood of excising benign moles, and unnecessary surgical scars.od of excising benign moles, and unnecessary surgical scars.
We suggest all patients check their own moles from time to time. Features to look out for include the ABCDE rule of suspicious moles:
Unequal or asymmetric moles are suspicious. This can be asymmetry of shape as well as color/border.
Moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders should be viewed with increased suspicion
Variation of color (e.g., more than one color or shade) within a mole can be suspicious. Irregular shades of browns, blues, reds, whites, and blacks can be concerning.
A mole that has a diameter larger 6 mm or is enlarging should be viewed with increased suspicion.
Any mole that is changing (colour, size, shape) disproportionately needs to be viewed with caution.
Other Danger Signs of Malignant Melanoma
ugly duckling mole - often stands out as being "not quite right"?
Oozing, crusting, ulceration, or bleeding in a mole
When the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, surgical excision of the tumor is usually the only therapy the patient requires.
Camberwell Dermatology provides expertise at all levels of melanoma surveillance. All our doctors are trained to diagnose and manage skin cancers including melanoma.
If your doctor has referred you to one of our dermatologist for an assessment of a suspicious mole, please discuss this with our staff when making an appointment.
If you are just unsure about your moles, and would like a full body mole check with assistance of photography and dermoscopy, Dr Christopher Oh can assess all your moles, and discuss further appropriate management and follow up. A referral is not required to see Dr Oh.