Our skin screening is performed by experienced Doctors using the latest Sciascope (MoleMate) technology to quickly and efficiently screen your staff’s skin. With our portable Sciascope, we can perform screening in offices on mine sites and even offshore.
Moles and Melanoma
What are moles?
Moles are overgrowths of the skin’s pigment cells (melanocytes). Almost all of us have them. Moles are not normally present at birth but appear in childhood and early teenage years. By the age of fifteen years Australian children have an average of more than 50 moles.
What causes Moles?
The number of moles that develop in an individual is determined by both genetic (inherited) factors and to a lesser extent by sun exposure. Childhood and early teenage years are the times when sunlight influences the development of new moles most strongly.
How many Moles should we have?
Australians have large numbers of moles by world standards, perhaps because of high sun exposure in childhood. Many Australians have up to 100 moles that are 2mm or more in size by the age of fifteen years. The more moles, the higher the risk of melanoma.
What is the significance of having a large number of Moles?
Individuals with large numbers of moles (more than 100) are at greater risk of developing melanoma. As the number of moles increases, so does the risk of developing melanoma. But only about 50% of melanomas occur in existing moles.
What are Dysplastic Moles?
Dysplastic moles are moles that have evolved some way toward melanoma. Since only very few dysplastic moles actually turn into melanoma they do not need to be removed routinely. If you have multiple dysplastic moles, however, you may need to have regular checks. Your dermatologist may photograph your skin so that changes in your moles can be detected at follow-up visits. Since many melanomas arise as new spots (on previously normal looking skin) it is necessary to observe all of the skin, not only the dysplastic moles.
What is a Melanoma?
Melanoma is a cancer of pigment cells (melanocytes) and is a form of skin cancer. Though it is much less common than basal and squamous cell skin cancers, we are more concerned about it because it has greater life-threatening potential. If allowed to grow for a period of time, melanoma will develop the potential to spread via lymphatic and blood vessels to other parts of the body where it may seed and grow (metastasize). Fortunately, unlike cancers that begin in internal organs, melanoma begins on the surface of the skin and is usually
brown or black, allowing us to detect its growth earlier and remove it before it becomes life-threatening. Australia has the highest rate of melanoma occurrence in the world.
What do Melanomas look like?
Melanomas usually pass through an initial flat phase which is not significantly life-threatening and is generally curable by having it cut out. Melanomas distinguish themselves from moles by changing. The changes occur in size (enlargement), shape or colour (usually all three). That is, melanomas get larger, more irregular in shape and most often darker and more uneven in colour. The changes of melanoma are generally detectable over a period of months. Changes that develop over days are almost always due to inflammation or injury and it is appropriate to wait for a week or two to allow sudden changes to go away. If the change fails to revert to normal and continues for more than a month you should see your doctor.Normal moles usually resemble one another, so a different looking mole should be reviewed by your doctor. A new mole after the age of 25 should also be reviewed by your doctor.
Melanomas will generally reach a size that is noticeably larger than most other moles (>6mm) without developing serious life-threatening potential. By this time they will usually show uneven colour and irregular shape. A persistently itchy mole can be another warning sign of a melanoma.
Don’t wait until your mole becomes elevated or bleeds before seeking medical advice.