Finding a suspicious mole on your body can be a frightening experience. You may not know by looking at the mole whether it is something to be concerned about and whether skin cancer may be a factor. Mole removal could be the right choice when you find an unusual mole. At Real Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery in Moonee Pond, Victoria, we can examine your concerning mole and help you determine the right approach to treatment.
If you think you might have a problematic mole, getting treatment as soon as possible is crucial to experiencing the best possible outcome.
The first step in the mole removal process is to assess your skin. Mr Salemo can examine your problem area and recommend a plan of action for treatment. At this consultation, you may be asked about your health history and any previous surgical procedures you have had. You may also be asked about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking and whether you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.
If it is determined that mole removal may be a good option for you, Mr Salemo can explain the process to you in detail and give you an opportunity to answer any questions you have.
The process of removing a suspicious mole begins with preparing the area of concern. This includes providing local anesthesia so you are comfortable throughout the procedure. Mr Salemo will also clean the skin in the area identified for removal.
The next step of the process is to cut out a portion of the skin. The part of the skin containing the mole is removed as well as some other skin around the mole. The extra is skin is for determining if there are more cancerous cells in the area.
Mr Salemo finishes the process by closing the incision with stitches and then placing a bandage over the area to protect it from infection and help it heal.
The skin that was removed is sent to a laboratory for testing. This helps to ensure that all of the cancerous cells were removed and that the cancer has not spread deeper into the skin.
The initial recovery period after the procedure can take around 24 to 48 hours. After this period, you can be scheduled for a follow-up procedure and the bandage can be removed. Full recovery may take several weeks.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This type of mole is typically clear, white, or pink but it can sometimes be the same colour as the skin, especially in darker-skinned people. It often has a shiny or pearled appearance.
A mole may also contain basal cell carcinoma if it develops into a sore that will not properly heal and lasts for several weeks. This also may present as a pink, splotchy patch of skin or a flat, scar-like area instead of a mole.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This type of cancerous mole is usually hard and red. It may appear over an older scar, sore, or ulcer. It can also present as a rough, scaly area of skin.
Moles that are positive for melanoma will often be asymmetrical in shape as opposed to a traditional mole, which is usually a uniform round or oval shape. Sometimes melanoma will have the shape of a traditional mole at first but then become asymmetrical over time.
Most moles have a well-defined border. A mole with a border that is scalloped or has spots that jut out may be considered suspicious and may need to be checked out.
While a regular mole is usually a uniform shade of tan or brown, a melanoma mole may contain shades of various colours. If you see a mixture of brown, tan, and black, this could be considered suspicious. As the mole develops, you might also see white and red.
The diameter of a melanoma mole is usually fairly large, around 6.3 millimetres.
Moles that are positive for melanoma may change quickly. This could mean that you notice they are getting bigger or that they change colour or shape.
Causes and Risks of Skin Cancer
The most common cause of skin cancer is damage that occurs because of spending time in the sun without skin protection. While the sun brings vitamin D to the body, it can also penetrate the skin and cause damage to healthy skin cells. This can trigger cells to become deformed and then reproduce as cancer.
The most important thing you can do to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin when you are outside. You can wear sunscreen and reapply it regularly. You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses as well as covering your skin with clothing.
The harmful UV rays that come from spending time in tanning beds are another cause of skin cancer. The more often you tan, the more you put yourself at risk. If you want to sport a tan, it is a good idea to try a spray tan or a tanning lotion rather than a tanning bed or spending time outside unprotected in the sun.
Radiation has sometimes been used to treat certain conditions such as severe acne. Unfortunately, these treatments can also cause cancer n the skin. If you have had this type of treatment, you may wish to take extra precautions in the sun and have your skin checked regularly.
Your skin colouring and tone play a role in your risk of cancer. Generally speaking, lighter-skinned people have a much higher risk of developing cancer of the skin than darker-skinned people do. This also includes people with light hair and eyes. However, it is a myth that dark-skinned people do not need to protect their skin from sun damage. People with dark skin can have cancer of the skin.
Cancer of the skin is something that tends to run in families. If you have had a relative who was treated for melanoma or another cancerous mole on the skin, you are more likely to develop this as well. This is especially true if you share physical characteristics with your relative like skin tone.
People with skin that tends to have moles or spots are also at higher risk for cancer of the skin. If you have moles, it makes sense to check them regularly for any changes in size, shape, or colour. If a mole seems unusual to you, consider contacting a doctor.
People who have had suspicious mole removal in the past are more likely to have the procedure again. Cancer of the skin is often a repetitive condition.
Being exposed to certain toxins can increase your risk of skin cancer. Some of these include arsenic and mercury. If you are regularly exposed to these toxic substances, you may want to talk to your doctor about how to best protect yourself.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation
This is a treatment that may be an alternative to having a mole cut out. This treatment involves using a special tool to scrape away the top layer of the skin where the suspicious mole or spot is located. Then the area is treated with an electrical current that kills any remaining cancerous cells.
This procedure is very similar to excising the mole. It is often used in situations where a doctor wants to take as little skin as possible. In this procedure, the doctor will remove just the skin that seems to be affected. It will be put into a centrifuge or closely examined in the office to be sure that the cancerous cells were contained in just the skin that was removed.
Another way of removing a suspicious mole is to freeze it off. This treatment involves having liquid nitrogen sprayed on to the mole. The mole will then fall off.
If a mole or cancerous spot cannot be surgically removed or removed safely in some other way, radiation therapy may be a possibility. Radiation involves targeting the damaged cells with x-rays or electrons that are designed to kill the damaged cells.
This treatment uses light and a photosensitizer to destroy cancerous cells. The light, which is typically applied from a laser, stimulates the photosensitizer drug to kill the targeted cells.
Chemotherapy cream may be used for very early cases of cancer on the skin. The topical cream is prescribed by a doctor and is applied at home on a specific schedule. The application continues for a short period of time determined by the doctor.
The doctor may send you home with a wrapping or a bandage on the area where the mole was removed. You will have instructions about how long this bandage could need to stay in place and if there will be any changing of the bandages. The medical staff can explain how to change the bandages when necessary.
The medical staff can also give you instructions about cleaning the area after the procedure. You may use a gentle soap to clean the area, and you may be given a specific schedule about how often to clean it.
It is important to keep the area moist in order to support the fast healing of the mole removal site. You may use petroleum jelly or another similar product to be sure that the incision spot doesn’t dry out.
After the wound has been completely healed, you may be instructed to gently massage the area of treatment. This is to help stimulate blood flow which is important to healing.
You may also be instructed to keep the treated area completely out of the sun as much as possible. This can be accomplished with the liberal use of sunscreen or clothing depending on where the cancer was located.
The most important thing do to when you have a suspicious mole on your body is to take action. This may mean seeing a doctor right away to have the mole examined and possibly tested for cancerous cells. The doctor may determine that the mole is cancerous, or the mole may be considered one that can easily become cancer if left untreated. With this information, you and your trusted medical team can decide what to do next.
If you are concerned about an unusual mole on your skin, call Real Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery in Moonee Ponds, Victoria. We are a medical team dedicated to compassionately and effectively treating all of our patients. Mr Salemo can carefully address your concerns and talk to you about your options. Your health is one of the most important parts of our life, and you can trust your skin to a knowledgeable team with the experience to make the right calls. Let us help you today.