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Diagnosis of melanoma

When a patient walks into our dermatology clinic, you will be examined to determine if you have melanoma. This skin examination is done by a dermatologist using an instrument called a dermatoscope. A dermatoscope magnified the skin, giving the dermatologist a proper view. Examining the skin does not just involve taking a look through a dermatoscope, it involves other procedures, and this is known as a biopsy.

During a biopsy, part of the mole that looks like melanoma or the whole of it is removed and sent to the lab for analysis. The results from the lab will determine if it is truly melanoma or not. From the report as well, the stage of the melanoma will be determined (provided it is truly melanoma).

There are 5 stages of melanoma. At the first stage (level 0), the melanoma or cancer cells are still on the epidermis, i.e. the top layer of the skin,  and at the last stage (level 4) the cells have spread to internal organs.  This point, the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes and has eaten deeper than the original top layer.

Another form of biopsy that can be used to determine the stage of melanoma is Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB). It tells the dermatologist whether the melanoma has spread to the lymph node or not. Other tests that can be required include blood work, x-ray and CT scan.

Treating melanoma

Before treating melanoma, certain factors must be taken into consideration. They are;

  • The health of the patient
  • The depth of the melanoma into the skin
  • If it spreads to other parts of the body

Melanoma can be treated in various ways.

1. Treatment by surgery

Based on the severity of the melanoma, it can be treated surgically when serious, or during a visit to the dermatologist when mild. For surgical treatment, it can be either by Mohs surgery or by excision.

  • Mohs surgery

This procedure is done by a Mohs surgeon. A Mohs surgeon is a dermatologist who has undergone extra years of medical training. Mohs surgery involves removing the melanoma and cancer cells by removing the skin layer infused with these cells one layer at a time until there is no more layer of skin with cancer cells. This method is highly effective, with a high cure and success rate of about 100%.

  • Excision

This procedure involves numbing the area and simply cutting off the cancerous cells in the skin.

2. Treatment by Immunotherapy

This type of treatment involves the immune system. The immune system is given a boost to increase its fight against cancer. The boost can be through the use of injections or medications.

3. Treatment through targeted therapy

This method of treatment involves the use of medication administered to the patient to shrink the cancer cells in the body.

4. Treatment by Adoptive T-cell therapy

In this procedure, the immune system is also used to fight the cancer cells. A sample of blood is taken from the patient, and the T-cells are harvested. T-cells are cells that 3help our body to ward off cancer and other infections. These T-cells are multiplied and re-injected into the patient to fight the cancer cells. It is mostly used for patients with advanced melanoma. However, it is not widely available.

Other forms of treatment include

  • Palliative care
  • Clinical trials and chemotherapy.

Understanding the treatment of melanoma

At Clearskin London, we have had experiences where patients did not fully respond to treatment in a specific period; sometimes, there was no record of any improvement until a long period. Some people fail to realise that for any treatment procedure to be successful; there has to be some form of understanding between the patient and the physician.

For you to be completely treated of melanoma by our dermatologist at Harley street London or by any dermatologist in London, you should take any form of advice given to you by the dermatologist. You can decide to take a notepad with you during the appointment to take down information you do not wish to forget, or you can go with a family member or friend.

Also, you must be willing to part with any information that may be required of you for effective treatment like your smoking and drinking habits or any other information about medications. This will help the dermatologist to determine the extent of the melanoma and possible ways to help you.


Melanoma is a very severe type of skin cancer. Nonetheless, it can still be cured. The key to successful and complete treatment of melanoma is early detection. With the ABCDEs, it is easy to tell when a spot or mole on the body is not normal anymore. When this happens, contact a dermatologist immediately.

At Clearskin London, our dermatologists are always available to attend to you. Visit our dermatology clinic today to find out more about melanoma, or call us on 020 71833648.