Did you know that most skin cancers we find are not detected by our patients during their personal skin checks?

This means that while self-checks are a very important tool in detecting and treating skin cancer, they should not replace a professional check by a trained skin cancer doctor.

During a full skin check, a skin cancer doctor will use dermoscopy (also known as a dermatoscopy or epiluminescence microscopy), to closely examine and analyse skin lesions.

What is dermoscopy?

Dermoscopy is conducted with a handheld microscope called a dermatoscope, which allows us to see under the surface of the skin (a bit like polarising sunglasses help you see fish and rocks under the surface of the ocean).

Each doctor has their own routine of executing a skin check, but will generally cover all of your skin to ensure nothing is missed. At Skin Repair Skin Cancer Clinic, we don’t typically examine genitals or breasts, unless our patients ask us to.

Why is dermoscopy important?

Dermoscopy enables doctors to distinguish between benign and malignant tumours, and to monitor potentially cancerous skin lesions so that we can treat them, if required, before it’s too late.

Dermoscopy is also useful for helping clinicians to determine the surgical margin for skin cancers. We often find that skin cancers have indistinct margins, and a dermatoscope can help us identify them to ensure that we don’t leave cancerous cells behind during removal.

Melanoma as viewed by the naked eye
The same melonoma through a dermatoscope

What can dermoscopy detect?

Dermoscopy can help detect a wide range of skin concerns including:

  • Distinguishing between benign and malignant tumours
  • Cancerous lesions including melanoma, , basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCCs)
  • Benign lesions such as angiomas, dermatofibromas and seborrheic keratosis
  • Changes to potentially cancerous skin lesions; and
  • Surgical margins for skin cancers to ensure that all cancerous cells are removed

Beyond skin cancer concerns, dermoscopy can also be used for the diagnosis of:

  • Fungal infections
  • Hair and scalp diseases such as alopecia
  • Pubic lice
  • Scabies; and
  • Warts

If you’re due for a skin check or have any skin cancer concerns, we strongly recommend a full skin check using dermoscopy.