How is melanoma diagnosed and treated?

Did you know some melanomas can be invisible to the naked eye? This potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer can sometimes go unnoticed by patients until it's detected during a routine skin check. In this short video, Dr James Millsom explains how melanomas are detected, diagnosed and treated.

Dr Millsom says that while some patients present to their skin check with concerns about particular spots on their skin, many are unaware of the melanomas that are eventually discovered. Early detection of skin cancer plays a vital role in successful treatment and cure, which is why a regular skin check is so important.

How do doctors detect melanoma?

Dr Millsom says that specially trained doctors use dermoscopy to see beneath the skin and identify certain characteristics that indicate skin cancer. A biopsy is taken and the tissue sample is sent to a specialist dermatopathology lab to confirm the diagnosis.

How often should I get a skin check to protect against melanoma?

Most people living in Australia need a skin check once a year. However, you may need more frequent skin checks (for example, every three months) if you have a family or personal history of skin cancer or other risk factors that increase your chance of developing skin cancer. Your doctor will advise how frequently you need a professional skin check based on your personal risk factors.

How is melanoma treated?

When melanoma is confirmed, treatment involves surgical removal. The extent of the surgical procedure depends on the severity/stage of the melanoma. Dr Millson says that early-stage melanomas often require only the removal of the cancerous tissue. However, patients with more advanced or spreading melanoma may require further surgical intervention or be referred to a multidisciplinary team.

Remember, regular skin checks are crucial for the early detection of melanoma, which significantly improves your chances of successful treatment and could save your life.

Watch the full video with Dr James Millsom: