Check yourself for melanoma

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 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.

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.

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.

It is also essential to have a full understanding of the warning signs of skin cancer. The ABCDE check breaks down the potential symptoms of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer:

A. Asymmetry: An asymmetrical mole is a warning sign of melanoma. Symmetrical moles, however, are more likely to be benign.

B. Border: Malignant moles will most likely have uneven borders. Melanomas can also be scalloped or raised.

C. Colour: A melanoma may be a variety of colours. It could be a mixture of shades including brown, black and tan – and can also develop into shades of red, blue and white.

D. Diameter: Malignant moles are more likely to have a larger diameter than benign ones. A melanoma will usually be larger than 6mm in diameter – although it may appear smaller at first.

E. Evolving: Melanomas will develop or change over periods of time. An evolving mole – whether it be its size, shape, colour, elevation or any other factors – indicates that it may be malignant. Any other new symptoms, including itching, crusting or bleeding, also suggest malignancy.

The team at SunDoctors 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 19 locations across Queensland and New South Wales, SunDoctors patients are guaranteed a rapid diagnosis, pathology and referral.

In addition to regular self-examination, you should have your skin checked with your GP or at our skin cancer clinics once every year or as advised by your doctor.

For more information about SunDoctors, to learn more about melanoma checks and self-examinations, or to book a skin cancer check, free call 13 – 7546 (13 – skin) or book online at www.sundoctors.com.au.