The Australian lifestyle is all about the great outdoors, the sun, surf and good friends out on a beautiful summer’s day. The way we lead our lives, however, means that skin cancer is a prominent issue for many Australians. In fact melanoma is the third most common cancer amongst Australians, with two-thirds of the population diagnosed with some type of skin cancer during their lifetimes. Approximately 2000 die from skin cancer every year.

While most moles do end up being harmless, it is still important to get regular check-ups. To help you decide whether it is time for a skin check here are five signs that it is time to visit a skin cancer clinic:

New moles

On average moles have a fairly regular colour either brown, black or tanned and can be raised above the skin or flat. Most moles are either present at birth or grow during childhood or young adulthood. If you find new moles growing on your skin during your forties or subsequent decades it might be a good idea to visit a doctor or skin cancer clinic to have them checked.

Signs of irregular growth based on the ABCDE rule

The ABCDE rule is a set of features that are often present in moles affected by skin cancer. These include:

  • Asymmetry: An asymmetric shape, or one where one half of the mole is different from the other.
  • Border: The border of the mole is irregular, blurred, ragged or indented.
  • Colour: The colour of the mole is not uniform and might have mixes of brown, black, pink, red, white or even blue.
  • Diameter: The mole is larger than 6 millimetres across (although it should be noted that some skin cancers can be much smaller than this).
  • Evolving: The mole is growing or changing in some way including its shape, colour or size.

Other irregularities

Aside from the ABCDE rule, there are also other irregularities that you should be on the lookout for, including redness, swelling, pain, itchiness, discharge of blood or fluid and sore or skin lesions that are not healing.

Family history

Aside from the physical signs and symptoms of skin cancer there are other considerations you should also take into account. If you have a family history of melanoma or other types of skin cancer it increases the chance that you might be affected by it during your lifetime. If you have such a family history it is very important to get checked around once a year.

It is winter

While many become worried about skin cancer in summer, it is actually winter that is the best time to book your regular check-up. Skin cancer is often caused by summer sun damage and might take months to manifest, making winter a great time to visit a skin cancer clinic. Of course if you do see signs or symptoms that concern you during summer or other seasons you should still go to a cancer clinic as soon as possible.