Dermoscopy

What is Dermaoscopy?

Dermoscopy is a magnified light device with polarized light allows the user to see structures of pigment not visible to the naked eye. Dermoscopy can help a practitioner decide which nevi (moles) need to be biopsied. Dermoscopy does not replace skin biopsy can when used by an experienced practitioner can be a very effective tool to help diagnose melanoma early.

Melanoma

Normal Nevus (mole)

Who needs Dermoscopy?

Dermoscopy can be used in all patients. Patients with many moles or a personal/family history of melanoma will benefit the most from dermoscopy.

Who uses Dermoscopy?

Most often dermatologists are trained to use a dermatoscope depending on the institution where they completed their training. Currently only 30-40% of dermatologists are trained in dermoscopy in the United States, however, dermsocopy is used by most dermatologists in Australia and New Zealand where melanoma rates are much higher.

Melanoma

Normal Nevus (moles)

Why do moles need to be examined?

Moles need to be examined to make sure that they are not melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer because it spread very quickly beyond the skin. Melanoma caught in an early stage can be treated with skin surgery, but melanoma caught at a later stage often requires surgery, lymph node removal, and anti-melanoma medication. About 1/3 of melanomas arise in moles so moles need to be checked for changes in color, border, pattern, and diameter.