Detecting skin cancer early
If you are worried about a non-healing sore or a lump on your skin……
Skin cancer (melanoma) symptoms include the following
any crusty, non-healing sores
small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour).
A melanoma is the uncontrolled growth of the pigment cells in the skin. It is a very serious type of skin cancer. The lifetime risk of an Australian developing a melanoma is about 10% for men and 6% for women, and this risk appears to be increasing each decade. Melanoma kills over 1500 Australians every year, and yet it is one of the most curable forms of cancer. The most effective method of treatment is diagnosis at an early stage of development, when the chance for cure by surgical removal is excellent.
THEY KEY TO EFFECTIVE TREATMENT: EARLY DETECTION
Hobart Place General Practice has acquired a state of the art SkinDoc. The SkinDoc allows the doctor to look at suspicious moles and lesions under very high magnification (30x) with special light frequencies. Because the images are at such high resolution and can be enlarged to fill the entire monitor screen, the doctor is able to look at the internal structure of the mole. Microscopic changes that would go unnoticed by the naked eye can be detected.
The images are stored in the SkinDoc memory. This means the doctor can compare an image of a mole taken today with one taken a month ago, three months ago, six months ago. Since the images are high resolution, the doctor can identify changes which though small might be a red flag.
A word of caution: it is not always possible, on the basis of a single inspection, to conclusively determine that a particular lesion is a melanoma. The odds of detection rise with a sequence of inspections over time since this highlights suspicious changes.
Removal of suspicious moles or skin lesions
When a suspicious mole or skin lesion is identified by a doctor who has undertaken training in dermatoscopy, the lesion can be removed by surgical excision, liquid nitrogen, electro-cautery or prescription creams. Alternatively, the doctor may decide to take a small piece of the affected area and send it to a laboratory for further analysis.