Normal moles are usually uniform in colour, are oval-shaped or round, and are often smaller than 6 millimeters in diameter. Unusual moles, particularly moles that have changed or bleed consistently, may indicate melanoma.
Melanomas may also grow in areas of the body with little to no exposure to sunlight, including under a fingernail or toenail, in the mouth or vulva area, or in the eye. If you are concerned regarding a possible atypical mole, be sure to contact your family doctor or nurse practitioner for assessment with consideration of referral to DermAtelier on Avenue as soon as possible.
HOW IS MELANOMA DIAGNOSED?
There are a number of melanoma diagnosis options depending on the size of the melanoma and your overall health.
SKIN EXAMINATION WITH DERMOSCOPY
For this form of analysis, Dr. Beach uses a tool that contains polarized light with microscopy to determine the ultrastructures, pigment networks, and vascular patterns of your nevus. Analysis of these features can be helpful in determining regular mole features and more concerning mole patterns that require further investigation.
For suspected melanomas, a skin biopsy is often performed to assess its characteristics. Following a skin biopsy, the skin cells are sent to a lab for analysis. There are three main types of skin biopsy techniques, including:
For small, early-stage melanomas, a skin biopsy is often performed to remove the melanoma. Following a skin biopsy, the skin cells are sent to a lab to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed from the body. Dr. Beach may use either biopsy technique:
During a punch biopsy, Dr. Beach will use a tool that resembles a round cookie cutter to “punch” out a deep sample of the skin. Sutures will be used to stitch the edges of the biopsy site together.
An excisional biopsy is done to examine a tumor that may have grown into the deeper layers of the skin. Dr. Beach will remove the visible lesion along with a small margin of healthy skin around
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A MELANOMA DIAGNOSIS?
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, individuals can benefit from melanoma treatment that may range from other surgical procedures with a plastic surgeon or surgical oncologist, to assessment and treatment by a medical oncologist. The first step, however, is diagnosis. If you believe you have an atypical mole and are concerned that it may be melanoma, be sure to see a dermatologist as soon as possible to have the lesion assessed. You can contact our office by filling out this form.