Diagnosing Skin Cancer through Dermoscopy
At Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center, we’re always seeking a better tools to help us diagnose skin cancer earlier because early detection is key to successful treatment and elimination of the cancer. We use what is known as a dermatoscope as a tool for diagnosis, and we think it gives our patients peace of mind knowing the odds of finding their skin cancers earlier is higher thanks to dermoscopy.
What is a dermatoscope?
A dermatoscope is a handheld device that uses polarized light to magnify anarea to 10 times normal vision. When looking through a dermatoscope, the features of a brown spot become more prominent and the pattern of pigment can be seen clearly. This helps us better evaluate a lesion while it is still in place, rather than opting to biopsy multiple atypical lesions.
How does a dermatoscope work?
Earlier versions of the dermatoscope required the use of oil or water on the skin with a glass placed atop that. The dermatoscope then viewed the skin through that arrangement, which was a somewhat cumbersome process.
At Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center, we now use the DermLite DL100. We hold the DermLite dermatoscope about one half inch above the lesion we are examining. We then activate the LEDs to illuminate the skin and look through the lens, moving it closer and back to obtain the desired image focus. We then have a clear and deep view into the pigmented lesions, giving us early detection capability for melanoma and dysplastic nevi in just a matter of seconds. When viewed through a dermatoscope, lesions appear grey, blue, red, or black. More importantly, the dermatoscope helps evaluate the depth of the pigment.
How accurate is a dermatoscope?
Dermoscopy significantly improves our diagnostic accuracy with melanoma. Dermatologists typically only diagnose from 65-80 percent of melanomas with routine eye examination. By using dermoscopy, we improve that diagnostic accuracy by a range of 10-27 percent. By using dermoscopy, we are also able to reduce the frequency of unnecessary surgical excisions of benign lesions.
What are the advantages of using a dermatoscope for diagnosing skin cancer?
At Advanced Laser and Skin Cancer Center, we believe that adding the dermatoscope to our diagnostic capability has given our patients many advantages in the quest for early diagnosis:
- Proven improvement in accurate melanoma diagnosis
- Better ability to differentiate benign lesions from skin cancer
- Reduces unnecessary biopsies and disfigurement
- Diagnosis is fast and completely non-invasive
- Allows us to have microscopic visualization of subsurface skin structures that are not visible to the naked eye
Do all dermatologists use dermoscopy?
Not all dermatologists are utilizing dermoscopy, despite its proven ability to improve diagnosis of melanoma, particularly melanoma in situ.
Where can a dermatoscope be used?
This device can be used anywhere on the body, as long as the lesion is on the surface of the skin. It is not effective for growth in the dermis, the skin’s second layer.