How can you tell the difference between a Mole and Melanoma?

The Problem
Worldwide, many people are scared because of the dramatic increase of Melanoma and other cancers of the skin. The sun’s rays and our behaviour in the sun are responsible for more than 90% of all the skin cancers. Melanoma can be cured, when detected early and treated promptly.
What are Moles or Naevi?
Benign MoledMost people have a number of small coloured spots on their skin. These lesions are called moles, birthmarks, freckles or naevi. Naevi may be present at birth or are acquired during lifetime. It is important to differ common moles from melanoma.
What is a Melanoma?
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that occurs in the pigment-producing skin cells (melanocytes). These cells become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and aggressively invade surrounding tissues. While it is the least common form of skin cancer, it is also the most serious. Melanoma can be cured if diagnosed and treated early.
Melanoma is completely curable when it is detected early and treated promptly.
Who is at risk of developing a Melanoma?
Early MelanomaMelanoma can affect anybody at any age, however some groups are at higher risk:

People at higher risk include those with…

  • A history of melanoma among first degree relatives
  • Many moles and/or atypical moles
  • Large naevi, present since birth
  • Sun-induced freckling and/or a history of many sunburns
  • Red or blond hair and green or blue eyes
  • Any new mole or changing moles.

How is Melanoma detected early?
Regular total skin examination by a doctor using skin screening technology like DermDOC Molescanning. This technology gives Dr O’Brien the best view of the mole and helps him to make a more accurate diagnosis. This means that he will pick up moles that need treatment much earlier. At the same time it can avoid having unnecessary procedures on safe moles.
It is recommended that all Australians should be getting a skin check every 12-months.
Patient self screening is also important, especially in picking up moles that may have early changes in size, shape or colour. Once these are noted it is important to see your doctor immediately.
Treatment of Suspicious MolesYour doctor may decide to biopsy or surgically remove a suspicious looking mole for your safety. The biopsy is examined through the microscope, a procedure called histopathology. The result from histopathology informs your doctor whether the mole was benign or melanoma.
Treatment of Early Melanoma

Complete surgical removal is the treatment of choice for early melanoma. In most cases, the surgical procedure is relatively small. Most likely, even when early melanoma has been verified, no additional treatment, except for surgery will be necessary.

How can I prevent Melanoma?
While there are steps that can be taken to lessen your risk of developing Melanoma, it is understood that if you have a family history of melanoma you are at an increased risk of developing melanoma in your lifetime and thus regular skin screening is essential.

You should avoid overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays from artificial sources, such as tanning beds or sun lamps, are just as dangerous as those from the sun.


Melanoma and skin cancer are serious health problems. Early melanoma is completely curable when diagnosed and
treated early.

Digital Molescanning is a vital tool for the early detection of melanoma. Digital Molescanning improves the diagnostic accuracy of the doctor’s examination for your safety.