You can’t simply DIY whether a mole is harmless or not. Why? Because expert use of a dermatoscope is required to truly tell whether a mole is definitely harmless.
Around 65% of melanoma develop from scratch, whilst 35% develop from a pre-existing mole. In other words, you need to keep an eye out for both changing lesions as well as new lesions! This doesn’t help much, right?
Should you worry about every new lesion? Harmless moles continue to appear in Young to middle-aged adults, whilst adults from their 30’s can develop skin lesions like seborrhoeic keratosis and age spots (solar lentigo). Yet early melanoma can look like either of these lesions.
How can you evaluate change in a lesion? The famous ABCDE is a good starting point. A changing lesion is one that changes in either Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter or is Evolving. In truth, any change is important. Melanoma may not be pigmented and may be entirely pink. The EFG rule was added later to help identify a dangerous type of melanoma called nodular melanoma.
A self-skin check is certainly better than no skin check, but the skin cancer doctor will greatly refine the probability of melanoma with dermoscopy at a skin check.
Dermatoscopy examination has two benefits:
- A skin lesion that looks fine with the ‘naked eye’ may be concerning after dermoscopy.
- A skin lesion that might otherwise look ‘nasty’ may be entirely reassuring after dermoscopy.