Many of us have moles on our bodies, whether they have been there since birth or appeared over time. Letting new moles go unchecked by a doctor is not advisable. They can go as far as to cause skin cancer, the so-called melanoma.
A yearly preventive visit to a healthcare expert can uncover high-risk moles at early stages. By removing them, any potential risk and complications can be avoided. Dealing with them at a later stage can be very difficult, there is a real danger of cancer spreading into the lymph nodes, brain, and other organs.
Moles are completely natural, benign skin growths. Patients may have them since birth, but they can also form spontaneously over the course of one’s life. How many a person has on their skin is usually determined by genetics. On average, a person has roughly twenty moles on their face and body. Whether a mole requires increased attention can be determined using the “ABCDE Method.” Its name provides simple instructions for conducting a self-examination. A (asymmetry) is meant to examine the (a)symmetry of the mole’s shape. A symmetrical mole is harmless in the vast majority of cases. As for the letter B (borders), a mole should have regular, sharp borders. C (color) focuses on the mole’s color – benign growths will mostly be uniform in color. D (diameter) means the growth’s diameter – if it is larger than 0.5 cm, it warrants attention. E (evolution) examines potential changes in color, size, or protrusion of the mole, which may be another indicator of more serious issues. The mole should also never be painful or bleed. Naturally, over time, moles that the patient has had for a while can also change.
Some moles may cause skin cancer, the so-called melanoma. So, patients should examine themselves at least once a month and, depending on their skin phototype, visit a dermatologist once every year or two. It is important to stay diligent, protecting the skin from sunlight UV radiation and paying special attention to potential changes on one’s skin during the summer months. “Mole checkups are painless and can be done any time of the year. The entire surface of the skin is examined, including the scalp, soles of the feet, and nails. An optical device, the dermatoscope, is used to conduct the examination – it shines a light through, and magnifies the view of, the upper layer of the skin, allowing the doctor to see any changes in structure and color that are invisible to the naked eye. The shape, size, color, and borders of the mole are monitored. The doctor conducting the examination also takes into account family history, changes in the mole’s appearance, and any potential bleeding or increase in size. Patients should not attend the examination when sunburnt or heavily tanned,” explains Lucie Polák, MD, dermatologist at the Canadian Medical clinic, where preventive examinations and mole removal are done routinely. She goes on to add that skin cancer can be uncovered in very early stages thanks to preventive care.
Sunburn is a risk
Malignant melanoma is a pernicious skin tumor and one of the deadliest tumors in existence. It has been steadily appearing more and more, and in Czechia, it is the sixth most common neoplasm. One of the reasons why melanoma is so dangerous is its tendency to spread to other organs, making it extremely difficult to treat in later stages. If not removed in time, malignant melanoma can be a deadly disease. “High-risk groups are people with very light skin, a high number of moles, or skin cancer in their family history. People who tend to spend a lot of time in the sun or in a tanning bed are also exposing themselves to heightened risk. Each burn heavily increases the chance of melanoma,” explains Lucie Polák.
High-risk moles are removed right away. If the surgery is of a more preventive or cosmetic nature, one should avoid scheduling for sunny, mainly summer, months. The removal itself is done surgically, the so-called ablation laser can also be used in low-risk cases. Following the procedure, the removed matter undergoes histological examination in order to rule out the risk of melanoma. “The surgical removal leaves behind a scar roughly the size of the removed mole. It depends on the type of procedure. Until the lesion is healed, any sports, swimming, or visits to the sauna should be limited. Once stitches are removed, we recommend that our patients undergo pressure massages of the scar tissue and photoprotective procedures. The surgical procedure, as well as the subsequent treatment of the site of removal, is always based on the individual patient, their history of colloidal scarring, as well as the pull of the skin surrounding the site of the lesion,” describes Dr. Lucie Polák.
The history of Canadian Medical stretches back to the mid-90s when a small clinic was established in Prague by Canadian doctors with the aim of providing foreigners living in the city with the standard of care they were used to from Canada and the US.
They also invited a small team of Czech doctors and nurses to work with them. Through their effort and high level of expertise, this team helped build a facility that could offer more complex outpatient care to its clients. Care that honors the same founding values – the patient always comes first. Canadian Medical has been caring for its patients for more than twenty years now, and thanks to its physicians, nurses, and back-of-house colleagues, it has been not only caring but also growing dramatically. It became part of the Czech healthcare group EUC, transforming into the largest network of high-end clinics in Czechia.
Canadian Medical has eight facilities in Prague and Brno and it added an inpatient ward with two modern operating theaters to its already comprehensive care repertoire.
Canadian Medical remains the first facility of choice for expats in Czechia thanks to the high quality of its care. The majority of its patients, nonetheless, are Czech clients that want to take the best possible care of their health and are looking for a high standard of service.
“Mole checkups are painless and can be done any time of the year,” explains Dr. Lucie Polák.