Dermoscopy

Dermoscopy is a new method of testing the pigmented lesions (nevi) of the body. It facilitates the physician’s task, providing greater sensitivity in the diagnosis of melanoma, even at early stages, when diagnosis with a simple clinical examination is difficult or impossible.

Dermoscopy is performed with a dermoscope, a hand tool consisting of a lens system and a special lighting. It is a bloodless, painless and quick examination which takes place in the clinic. The patient removes his/her clothes and lies down on the examination bed in successively different positions, uncovering all body parts to the physician. All lesions of the skin, the scalp, the nails and the mucous membranes of the patient (oral cavity, genitals) are examined one by one. The dermoscope provides the physician the possibility to observe not only a surface of the skin while zoomed in, but also its deeper layers where melanocytes are found. In case a cancerous transformation is observed in a nevus, even though an incipient one, there are characteristic motifs that render such a lesion suspicious for malignancy.

In case a suspicious lesion is observed, it is usually removed surgically. If the suspicion of malignancy is very low, the lesion can be captured through the dermoscope and re-examined in a 3-4 months time.

Although dermoscopy is a special examination for the melanoma diagnosis, it is used for the early detection of other forms of skin cancer (such as basal epithelioma and squamous cell carcinoma). It can also help diagnosis of other skin conditions such as vascular injuries, scalp diseases, viral lesions, etc.

The annual dermoscopic control can promptly detect melanoma, whose surgical removal equates its complete treatment.

The need for annual dermoscopic control is particularly urgent for high-risk and medium-risk groups for developing a melanoma.

High-risk individuals for developing a melanoma are:

  • Those with a personal or family history of melanoma
  • Adults with more than 100 nevi, children with more than 50 nevi
  • Existence of at least one dysplastic nevus (a nevus that is asymmetrical and larger than the others)
  • Existence of at least one congenital nevus (a nevus that is growing in the womb and is visible at birth)

Medium-risk individuals for developing a melanoma are:

  • Those with pale skin phenotype (which burns easily and tans hardly or not at all)
  • Blonde, red hair individuals, green-eye or blue-eye individuals
  • Freckled persons
  • Individuals with history of a sunburn under the age of 15 years