Clinical Pointers to melanoma – which lesions require urgent referral?
Eileen Clark, Consultant Dermatologist & Ian Baldacchino, General Practice Trainee, Department of Dermatology, Sir Paul Boffa Hospital, Malta
Melanoma is a malignant tumour and its thickness at the time of removal is the key determinant of the patient outcome. There are different types of melanomas, some of which commonly have an early slow growth phase, where malignant cells stay within the epidermis in an ‘in-situ’ phase before they acquire the capacity for invasion. This phase may last many months or even years and if the melanoma is detected and removed in this phase of early growth, it may be curable. Thus, physicians have the potential to reduce the mortality of this disease. There are various tools to help physicians recognise the signs of a malignant melanoma. It is important that such lesions are recognised as being suspicious for melanoma, and referred urgently for further assessment.