3 ways to spot the early signs of skin cancer

30 June 2018

Did you know skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer?

When you think about it, the reason is obvious - skin is the largest organ we have after all, and it comes into direct contact with the weather and environment every day.

The key to the relatively high survival rates of skin cancer lies in the ability to recognise and deal with it early. What’s more, you don’t have to be an expert or surgeon to notice them.

We can all do our own bit to check for signs of skin cancer, therefore before you head to a clinic or your doctor, here’s three ways to do just that:

1. Start with the full body examination

You know your own body, therefore the first thing to do when checking for skin cancer is to look for any abnormalities on your skin.

Stand in front of a full length mirror and check every part of your body - even the areas that aren’t exposed to the sun.

Look at the hard to reach areas, too, such as your back (you can always call on a close relative or friend to help you here), and raise your arms to examine your underarms. Oh, and don’t forget the tops and bottoms of your feet, either.

Leave no stone unturned.

2. Track your moles

Most moles are absolutely nothing to worry about, but if you notice new moles or those that seem to change in appearance, they’re worth keeping an eye on.

You can do this by taking photos, or by using an app on your phone, but if you’re unsure about a mole, track where it is and make a note of its general appearance each month before consulting an expert.

3. Know what to look for with problem moles

A mole is a mole, right? Well, to a degree, yes, but a mole’s characteristics can tell you an awful lot about its reasons for being on your body.

There are five elements to measure when looking at moles, and they’re referred to commonly as the ‘ABCDE rule’. This will help you spot melanomas on your skin:

  • A (asymmetry): moles with two sides where one looks different to the other
  • B (borders): the surround of a mole might be irregular, ragged or have visible blood vessels around it
  • C (colour): moles that are different shades of brown, or include specks of red or black
  • D (diameter): look for moles that are larger than 6mm
  • E (evolving): moles that change shape, size and possibly even colour over time - look for those that have a shrunken centre, too

Wrapping up

It must be noted that the three methods of above for spotting the early signs of skin cancer are certainly not fool proof and shouldn’t be a replacement for visiting an expert.

If you’re at all unsure, visit your GP or specialist clinic for a thorough examination.

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