We agree that using an electron microscope on patients isn’t a good idea but the advances in hand held devices are remarkable.
Although magnification has been used to medically inspect the skin since the 17th century, true dermoscopy arrived in the 1920s. A light source was built into a magnifying device, providing doctors with clarity.
The beginning of the 21st century saw a further advance, with polarised light replacing the standard source. This eliminated the need for a liquid medium, to reduce the reflectivity of the skin’s surface.
The digital age has seen further change, where images, or video can be captured from the dermascope and stored. This provides dermatologists with a powerful, easily manipulated, hand held diagnostic tool.
A dermascope (or dermatoscope) is the prevalent form of skin surface microscopy, often used in skin cancer diagnosis. Benign lesions can be identified without needing a biopsy, those requiring more care be better understood.
Dermoscopy & Skin Cancer
In experienced hands, a dermascope is a fine aid for evaluating pigmented skin lesions. Helping to set aside innocent examples and to accurately diagnose issues ranging from seborrhoeic keratoses, to melanoma.
An experienced skin cancer specialist can often identify cancerous symptoms by eye but a dermascope adds an extra edge. A clarity of colour and structure that would be impossible for the naked eye, or a basic microscope to see.
Colour in itself can be a diagnostic aid, especially the distribution of pigments. Precise analysis of shape, symmetry, asymmetry, provides further valuable information.
Computer software can retain critical images for further study, or future comparison. Good diagnosis remains in the hands of an experienced consultant, they are the key but they value the additional accuracy brought by a dermascope.
Dermoscopy For Patients
As much as we value dermoscopy, the real benefit is to our patients. Peace of mind from a positive diagnosis is welcome, referrals for further treatment, or examination are reduced, as is unnecessary cutting of the skin.
In cases where there is a problem, this becomes evident and prompt treatment can follow. Dermoscopy may continue to help during treatment, an aid to mapping progress and establishing the all clear.
Creating personally defined skin cancer treatment should be the aim of any good clinic and dermoscopy helps make this a reality. By bringing visualisation of skin structures to life, which would otherwise be unseen.
There are techniques for examining your skin in more depth, such as laser driven confocal microscopy, which can literally see beneath the skin. Where required, they will be used but the latest dermoscopes are ideal for many skin conditions.
Our London Clinic
As with any scientific instrument, dedicated training and experience help greatly. The skin cancer consultants at our London clinic are experts in the field of dermoscopy.
This is a quite specific skill, beyond the remit of general dermatology, or skin cancer care. The objective being to improve diagnosis, rather than just improve the view of your skin.
Although dermoscopy can be useful in general practice, focused research on skin cancer diagnostic techniques backs up the principle of specialist benefit, along with looking at how the latest approaches can be used.
Expertise apart, you will find our consultants care about their patients and understand the concerns potential skin cancer can create. If an ethos of personal support makes sense to you, please get in touch.
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