Performing self-examinations for melanomas and other types of skin cancers is crucial in achieving early detection. By spotting skin cancer early, you can avoid surgery and – in the case of melanomas – avoid disfigurement or even death.
By having a doctor perform an initial full-body exam, you can ensure that any existing moles, freckles or spots are not cancerous. Following this, it is advised that you perform self-examination about once a month, while continuing to follow up with your doctor annually.
By regularly performing skin and melanoma checks by yourself rather than waiting to visit a skin cancer clinic, you can assist in the vital process of early detection.
How to check for melanoma
It is important that you have adequate lighting when performing a skin cancer check, and that you use a hand mirror if you are on your own. Every part of the body needs to be checked, including areas that are not regularly exposed to the sun – such as in between the fingers, under the nails or on the heels or soles of the feet.
It is necessary to first observe how your skin usually looks in order to be able to detect potential changes. If you notice any new or changing moles, spots or freckles, immediately seek doctor's advice.
How to check a mole for melanoma
Checking a mole for melanoma involves a simple and straightforward process that you can do at home. Start by examining your skin in a well-lit room or using a handheld mirror to check your skin in hard-to-reach parts of the body. You should examine your entire body for a comprehensive skin check.
When examining your skin, it's important to look for changes in an existing mole, such as the size, shape, or colour. You should also be on the lookout for any new moles that have appeared on your skin. By examining your skin regularly, you'll be better equipped to detect any changes early and seek medical advice if necessary.
Remember that early detection is key to successful treatment of melanoma and other types of skin cancer. By performing self-examinations regularly, you can take control of your health and protect yourself from the risks of skin cancer.
ABCDE Warning Signs of Skin Cancer
A. Asymmetry: When examining a mole, check if one half of the mole matches the other. Asymmetrical moles can be warning signs of melanoma or other types of skin cancer. This is because normal moles are usually symmetrical, meaning that both halves look the same.
B. Border: Melanomas tend to have borders with edges uneven or irregular. This means that the edges of the mole can be smooth or notched, rather than having a clear and regular border.
C. Colour: Melanomas can have different shades of black, brown, or even red, white, or blue. Normal moles usually have one colour, but melanomas can have multiple colour patches or uneven distribution of colour within the mole. Any change in colour can be a warning sign.
D. Diameter: Most melanomas are larger than 6mm, but some can be smaller. It's important to keep an eye on the size of your moles and to seek medical advice if you notice any changes.
E. Evolving: If the mole has changed in size, shape, colour, or texture, or if it bleeds or itches, it's important to seek medical advice. Any change in an existing mole can be a warning sign of melanoma. Melanomas can also develop from normal skin, so any suspicious spots that appear on your skin should be examined by a doctor.
The importance of diagnosing Melanoma early on
Early detection of melanoma is crucial for successful skin cancer treatment and better outcomes. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, and if not caught early, it can spread to other parts of the body and become more difficult to treat. However, if it's detected early, it can often be removed completely with minor surgery.
By performing regular self-examination and seeking medical advice as soon as you notice any changes in your skin, you can help ensure the early detection of melanoma cells. If you have a history of skin cancer or have any risk factors for developing melanoma, it's especially important to be proactive about checking your skin.
If melanoma is suspected, your doctor may perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the size and location of the melanoma cells, your doctor may also recommend a sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Early detection and accurate diagnosis of melanoma are essential for effective treatment options and can help reduce the risk of complications and improve your outcomes.
How to get checked for melanoma
If you are concerned about changes in your skin or have any risk factors for developing melanoma, it's important to seek medical attention from your doctor. They can perform a physical exam and, if necessary, a skin biopsy to diagnose melanoma or other skin diseases.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend additional tests, such as imaging tests like a CT scan or PET scan, to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. If melanoma is diagnosed, your doctor can discuss treatment options with you.
If you have a family history of melanoma or have a personal medical history of skin cancer, it's important to speak to your doctor about your risk factors and schedule regular skin checks. By being proactive about checking your skin and seeking medical attention when you have concerns, you can ensure the early detection and successful treatment of melanoma.
Talk to highly skilled Doctors at one of our skin cancer clinics
The team at SunDoctors skin cancer clinics take great pride in educating the community about skin cancer and skin cancer prevention. SunDoctors is a leading provider of skin cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and education. With clinics operating in over 40 locations across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, SunDoctors patients are guaranteed a rapid diagnosis, pathology and referral.