Diagnosis of Melanoma

Abnormal Moles Treatment

A study from Scotland shows that patients with melanoma who are initially biopsied by their GPs rather than dermatology consultants, have no reduction in their survival benefit. This is likely to be a controversial interpretation as national cancer guidelines categorically state that suspicious pigmented lesions need to be referred to consultant dermatologists in the hospital setting.

But why is this?

The initial excision of melanoma provides the most important information about prognosis; the depth to which the tumour has invaded into the skin (also termed the ‘Breslow thickness’). If a melanoma is only partially excised, then there is a chance that this crucial information will be incorrect as the thickest element of the tumour may have been missed in the sample. The scarring caused by an incomplete excision often makes the Breslow thickness difficult to interpret on further re-excisions.

It is for this reason that UK national cancer guidelines strictly recommend that abnormal moles are treated urgently by consultant dermatologists.

We recently covered what to look out for if you think you have a melanoma so here’s a quick reminder.

      Rapidly growing or enlarging moles
      Moles that change shape and become irregular or asymmetrical
      Blurring of the borders of a mole
      Changing colour, particularly darkening, or more variations of colour appearing
      Ulceration or bleeding

An image of melanoma:
MM