|Q: Why should I have my moles examined? |
A: Melanoma is a potentially lethal skin cancer. This disease is increasing in incidence faster than any other cancer in the United States today. The presence of atypical or dysplastic nevus increases the risk of developing melanoma, as well, a family history of melanoma may also increase your risk. Periodic screenings allow you and your physician to monitor your moles for subtle changes that may be precursors to melanoma. Early detection is critical to successful treatment. Malignant melanoma can spread to other organs in the body and can be life-threatening.
|Q: When should I have my moles examined?|
A: If any of your moles have changed in size, shape or color, it is important that you have it examined by a doctor. It is recommended that you use the ABCD Rule when performing a self–exam. Moles that are Asymmetrical, have an ill-defined Border, several Colors or a Diameter greater then ¼” should be examined.
Regular examinations are the key to early detection. Melanoma that are detected at the earliest stages have a much higher cure rate.
|Q: What is a SIAscope™?|
A: The SIAscope™ is a system that probes the skin with visible and infrared light, giving the physician maps of different components from beneath the surface of the skin. These maps provide additional information to the physician about the structure of the skin and have been shown to improve the accuracy of the diagnosis.
|Q: What does the SIAscope scan involve?|
A: The physician will first look at any moles that you are particularly concerned about, and if you wish, also examine the rest of your body for potential skin cancers. Then either the physician or a nurse will scan the lesions using the SIAscope. Finally the physician will discuss the results of the scans with you.
|Q: Will the SIAscope scan hurt?|
A: No. The SIAscope is completely painless and does not harm you in any way.
|Q: How long does it take?|
A: After your physician has examined you and has reviewed any family history of melanoma or severe sun burns, your lesions will be scanned. Each scan takes about ten seconds, after which the physician will review the results with you.
|Q: What happens afterwards?|
A: In most cases, the physician will be able to reassure you that your moles are not cancerous. The images will be stored in a database on the SIAscope. This will allow the physician to compare your moles to later scans to determine if there are any changes.
In some cases your physician may decide that a biopsy is necessary or that the mole needs to be excised. This can all be done under a local anesthetic, quite painlessly.
|Q: How often should I have my moles scanned?|
A: Your physician will tell you, but normally every 3 to 6 months would be a reasonable time frame for a person at risk. Otherwise, at the very least, a yearly checkup is recommended.
|Q: Should I have my children scanned?|
A: Although most skin cancers develop later on in life there is more and more evidence that younger adults and even some children can develop skin cancer. For that reason it is recommend by physicians that the whole family should have a routine check-up. If nothing else, an early awareness to the risk of skin cancer and sun exposure is a good thing for your whole family.
|Q: How do I reduce the risk of skin cancer?|
A: You can reduce your family’s, and your own, risk of developing skin cancer by following the ABC’s. These simple, potentially life-saving steps are:
Always: Stay out of the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm
Block: Use an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen
Cover Up: Wear a T-shirt and a hat
Speak out: Talk to family and friends about sun protection and the need for regular scans of any suspicious lesions.