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What is Dermoscopy?

Dermoscopy is the use of a hand-held magnifying device called a dermatoscope to visualise features of pigmented and non-pigmented skin lesions that are not seen by the naked eye. In a trained physician, dermoscopy has been shown to increase the diagnostic accuracy in detecting skin cancers. The evidence is so compelling that the Australian Government and National Health and Medical Research Council have given the use of dermoscopy a Grade A recommendation: ‘training and utilisation of dermoscopy is recommended for clinicians routinely examining pigmented lesions’. This essentially means that if anybody is going to look at a skin lesion, especially a pigmented skin lesion such as a mole, then a dermatoscope must be used.

Here are just 2 examples why this is important:

First example

Naked eye examination of a dark lesion. To most people this would look suspicious.

Using the dermatoscope, the lesion can comfortably be diagnosed as a benign Seborrheic Keratosis and the patient reassured.

Second example

Naked eye examination of this ‘pretty normal’ looking mole.

Applying the dermatoscope to the skin and a different picture emerges of an early melanoma which could have been easily missed.

For these reasons I use the dermatoscope to look at a every skin lesion I come across in my practice.