In their initial stages, melanomas have a very similar appearance to nevi or moles, which is why it is very important to inform your dermatologist if you notice any new moles or detect any changes in the color, size or volume of the ones you already have.
It is especially important to have regular check-ups if there are prior risk factors:
- Having more than 50 nevi on the body;
- Having family members who have had melanoma or skin cancer.
Changes which Might Suggest a Malignancy
A – Asymmetry: Does the lesion or growth have an irregular, asymmetrical shape?
B – Borders: Are the edges irregular or notched?
C – Color: What color is it? Are there two or more shades of color?
D – Diameter: Does it measure 6 mm or more?
E – Evolution: Has the growth changed over the past few weeks (color, size, shape, etc.)?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we recommend you make an appointment with a dermatologist to have a precise and professional examination.
To diagnose the possible presence of melanoma with the utmost precision, a cutaneous screening will be performed using epiluminescence dermatoscopy. This technique produces high-definition images which permit the analysis of all the pigmented growths, moles or nevi to determine whether there are suspected melanoma lesions.
If there is reason to suspect that a growth may be melanoma, a sample of the affected tissue will be taken by performing a biopsy in order to perform a histological study.
Diagnosis of the Extension of the Melanoma (Staging)
If there is a diagnosis of melanoma, complementary tests will be performed to define with the greatest precision whether the melanoma is a localized lesion or whether it has spread and is affecting other parts of the body.
To do this, different diagnostic techniques will be used:
- Sentinel node biopsy: This biopsy is performed to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other organs.
- PET scan: This test also detects whether the cancer has spread (in other words, metastasized).