Every month should be melanoma awareness month, and it easily can be. All you have to do is know what to look for, watch your moles, and schedule regular checks to ensure that your moles are healthy and you aren’t at risk for melanoma. At the office of Ingrid E. Trenkle, MD in Redlands, CA, we’re serious about skin health and taking preventative steps, which is why we have partnered with Dermtech to make melanoma detection quick, simple, and as painless as possible.
What Is Dermtech?
At our office, we are proud to provide our patients with real, accurate information and answers about their questionable moles with the Dermtech Melanoma Test. This test delivers results that are 99% accurate, and there’s no cutting involved. You’ll be able to find out whether your mole is healthy and benign or needs further evaluation in just a few simple steps.
A Preventative Test
It’s important to note that this testing is completely preventative. It helps gather information so that you can take the necessary steps to move forward if your mole needs further treatment. It also prevents you from undergoing a biopsy unnecessarily.
Once we gather the required information about your mole, we can create a treatment plan regarding the best way to move forward. A biopsy may be necessary to collect more detailed information about the mole. We will also discuss removing the mole entirely if necessary.
The Dermtech Difference
In the past, having your moles checked wasn’t the most comfortable experience, which is why so many people would find ways to push off this appointment. Many people avoid mole checks to avoid discomfort and take the ignorance is bliss route, and understandably so. Thanks to this new revolutionary design, you can get ahead of the scalpel and find out if you’re at risk for melanoma.
Another benefit of this method is that it provides a far more thorough initial evaluation of your mole than a typical biopsy can. Biopsies typically can only test one to two percent of the mole. Using the Dermtech smart sticker, we can take skin cells from 100% of the entire more surface area.
How Does It Work?
To undergo the Dermtech Melanoma Test, you will begin the process by scheduling an appointment at our office. When you come in for your appointment, we can test the moles using a little sticker with an extremely strong adhesive. These stickers will remove 1.5 mg of skin tissue from the skin’s surface in order to evaluate your skin cells for a specific genomic material.
The Three-Step Process
This test takes place with a simple three-step process. It’s quick and painless but is very effective and preventative. It will help us get more information about you and your moles so that we can take the necessary steps to keep you in optimal health.
The Collection Process
This test begins with the collection process. We will use the small, circular sticker and apply it to your questionable moles to collect skin cells. Once we apply the smart sticker to your moles, we will simply press the sticker and rub it on the spot. Then, we will outline the mole and pull the sticker off of the skin. We will then place it on a collection strip and submit it for further evaluation.
The Testing Process
Once the collection process is complete, we will submit the sticker samples to Dermtech. Their lab will use a specialized process to analyze the collection of skin cells. They will look for two specific genes within your skin cells that indicate melanoma, including PRAME and LINCOO528. The testing process is extremely detailed and allows technicians to view your skin cells through a lens that can detect genetic mutations indicating cancer.
Obtaining Your Results
As soon as the technicians at Dermtech complete the testing process, they will send the results to our office within three business days. We will then review those results with you. If your moles are healthy and benign, you will not need to undergo any removal or biopsy. A good report is a reason to celebrate because you have saved yourself from a biopsy scar by undergoing this test.
At the same time, even if your mole is questionable, you should be happy that you underwent this testing because now you are one step ahead of melanoma. If this is the case, we will discuss the next steps to help you stay as healthy as possible.
Is the Testing Process Painful?
This skin cell collection method does not cause pain. It does have a strong adhesive designed purposely to stick to your skin. This adhesive helps us collect the necessary skin cells, but it will not cause bleeding, pain, or skin damage of any kind. The removal process may feel similar to slowly pulling a Band-Aid off of your skin.
Evaluating Your Moles
It’s important to know the difference between a healthy and questionable mole. This is an important part of the early detection process. When you take the necessary preventative measures, regardless of whether it is technically melanoma awareness month or not, you can increase your melanoma survival rate by 99%.
What To Look For
Moles come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Some of the most questionable-looking moles may be completely harmless. Others may not. For that reason, you must take preventative measures both during melanoma awareness month and during the remaining months of the year to ensure that you protect yourself from melanoma.
Questionable moles share some definitive characteristics. Learning these characteristics can help you move forward to take preventative steps to deal with these moles and prevent melanoma. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s causing you concern, you should schedule an appointment to have an expert evaluate it so that you can put your mind to rest.
The ABCDE rule is one of the easiest ways to detect a questionable mole. Healthy moles typically look similar. They are symmetrical, meaning that both halves are relatively equal. They don’t have irregular borders, and their color is even. The healthiest moles are smaller than the eraser on a pencil and typically don’t change dramatically within a short period of time.
A questionable mole will break some or all of these rules. It will be defined by asymmetry, meaning that one half is bigger or smaller than the other. It won’t have a well-defined border and may instead blur into the skin. Its color may also be uneven. It may increase in size and diameter and can evolve within a short period of time. If your mole changes so much so that it stands out from the rest of the moles on your body, it may be time to have it checked.
When To Seek Outside Care
Melanoma awareness month typically brings in more patients for mole checks than usual, but it’s important that you stay on top of this process regardless of the time of year. Regular mole checks are the best way to help prevent melanoma, and thanks to this simple preventative test, evaluating moles has never been so easy.
If you have a mole that does not meet the criteria of what would be considered healthy or normal, you should schedule an appointment to have that mole evaluated. It is always better to be safe regarding moles and have an expert evaluate them as thoroughly as possible.
Schedule Your Preventative Appointment Today
If you have an irregular mole causing you concern or just want to have an expert examine each mole on your body, we can help. With the use of the Dermtech testing process, we can evaluate your moles and help detect any possible issues so that you can stay one step ahead of melanoma. Contact us today at the office of Ingrid E. Trenkle, MD, in Redlands, CA, to schedule your initial consultation so that we can take the preventative steps to help you live worry-free.