Due to the geographical position of our country, Australians experience a much higher risk of obtaining skin cancer than do citizens of other countries. First and foremost, preventative skin care is the best means of allaying this risk. By applying sunscreen, wearing appropriate clothing and avoiding exposure to the sun during the hours in which the highest percentage of UV rays are present, Australian citizens can substantially reduce their likelihood of obtaining skin cancer. Unfortunately, even the most comprehensive approach to preventative skin care does not remove the chance of skin cancer entirely.

For Australians and other citizens of nations experiencing high exposure to UV rays, learning to identify melanoma from normal skin blemishes is of incredible importance. The sooner cancer is identified, the sooner treatment can be undertaken and the more effective this treatment will be. One easy way to remember how to check your skin for cancers is the ABCDE technique:

  • A for asymmetry. If a mole is not symmetrical there is a greater chance it could be cancerous.
  • B for border irregularity. Moles with blurred or poorly defined borders are more likely to be cancerous than those that are not.
  • C for colour. Moles that are not a single colour and moles that are quite dark should be reported to a doctor.
  • D for diameter. Although melanoma can be quite small, moles over a centimetre in diameter should be cause for review.
  • E for evolution. Any mole in which you have witnessed change over time is worth reporting to a doctor.

This is not to say that moles that do not exhibit these qualities are not worthy of review- it is important for all Australian citizens to monitor the health of their skin, and individuals over 50 should frequently undergo professional skin cancer checks irrespective of their application of the ABCDE technique. However, by using this strategy to maintain conciousness awareness of the state of your skin, substantial health risks can be avoided.