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. 


There are a number of melanoma diagnosis options depending on the size of the melanoma and your overall health. 


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


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a dermatologist tell if a mole is cancerous just by looking at it?

Sometimes yes, and sometimes it requires an evaluation with a dermatoscope or a biopsy of the tissue.

Can a melanoma appear overnight?

No, it generally develops gradually in a new mole or an existing mole that changes.

Can chemo cure melanoma?

In some cases chemotherapy helps control melanoma.

Can melanoma be caused by stress?

No stress is not known to be a cause of melanoma.

Does vitamin D prevent melanoma?

It helps support the skin and bones.

How do they cut out melanoma?

Depends on the size / depth of the melanoma but it is cut out to leave a rim of normal skin around the melanoma and goes down to the skin fat.

How do you know if a mole is suspicious?

It may look different than your other moles or it may have recently changed, it may bleed or hurt.

How do you know if a spot is skin cancer?

It may look different than your other moles or it may have recently changed; it may bleed or hurt.

Is melanoma flat or raised?

It can be flat or raised. Generally in the early stage it is flat and as it progresses it gets raised.

Is Stage 1 melanoma considered cancer?

Yes, it is a form of cancer.

Is Stage 3 melanoma terminal?

Not necessarily, it can receive treatment at this stage.

Should you see an oncologist for melanoma?

Deeper melanomas may be assessed by an oncologist for potential treatment. Thin melanoma/ melanoma in situ is not seen by an oncologist generally.

What does a melanoma spot look like?

It can look brown-black or mottled in colour and may have areas that look like they were rubbed out/ grey - white in appearance.

What does a suspicious mole look like?

It can look brown-black or mottled in colour and may have areas that look like they were rubbed out/ grey - white in appearance.

What does melanoma do to the body?

It can invade other body sites or tissues and cause them to lose their function.

When should you get moles checked?

If you notice a difference or change in a mole or it begins to bleed, it is advised to have it checked.

What is the most common treatment for melanoma?

Surgical excision to remove the melanoma, then skin exams that include check of the lymph nodes is common management for melanoma.

What foods to avoid if you have melanoma?

There is not known to be foods to avoid when having melanoma.

What really causes melanoma?

A combination of sun exposure, skin trauma and genetics are believed to contribute to melanoma.

What scans are done for melanoma?

Sometimes a PET scan will be done to see whether and where the melanoma is active in the body.

What is the most effective treatment for melanoma?

Each melanoma is different, but surgical excision with check of lymph nodes can be highly effective

Can melanoma be picked up in blood tests?

It is not diagnosed by a blood test.

Can Melanoma go away on its own?

There have been rare reports of its resolution; but this is uncommon.

Can you have melanoma for years and not know?

Yes, this is possible.

Do you need chemo for melanoma?

some patients require chemotherapy after having been assessed by an onocologist (cancer doctor)

How do you know if melanoma has spread?

Sometimes the skin shows other pigmented areas nearby and similar to the melanoma or bumps under the skin.

How fast does melanoma grow?

This can be variable depending on the type of melanoma and can range from weeks to years.

How long is chemotherapy for melanoma?

Your oncologist will inform you of the duration of chemotherapy, it can span over several months.

Is melanoma cancer a death sentence?

The thinnest type of melanoma melanoma in situ has a high survival rate.

What are the 4 types of melanoma?

Superficial spreading, nodular, amelanotic, melanoma in situ are the types of melanoma.

What can be done to prevent melanoma?

Avoid sun burns and tell your doctor if you notice a change in a mole or a new mole.

What can be mistaken for melanoma?

Certain regular lesions like seborrheic keratoses or other types of skin cancer like pigmented squamous cell cancer, pigmented basal cell cancer can be mistaken for melanoma.

What color is melanoma?

It can range in colour from pink to brown to black to bluish.

What is the most aggressive melanoma?

In the skin, nodular is considered the most aggressive.

What is the latest treatment for melanoma?

Clinical trials have medications which stop the immune system from growing the melanoma and are the latest treatment for melanoma.

What is the first sign of melanoma?

Sometimes it is a change in a mole such as a bumpiness or bleeding, or a new spot on the palms or soles.

What happens to your body when you have melanoma?

The melanoma can spread to other areas of the body and harm organ function.



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