Discover the five signs of skin cancer you could be missing that can help you track and prevent the condition.
Although we avoid sun exposure during unsafe hours in the summer, it is important to continue to be mindful of our skin in different seasons as well. Australia’s geographic positioning makes it prone to more severe levels of UV radiations than other countries. This applies to the whole year, not just in the summer season.
Dr Pedro Valente is a cosmetic surgeon and specialist in skin cancer diagnosis and management at Specialist Clinics of Australia: “A visit to your physician should be a priority to detect any suspicious lesions. Additionally, self-examination can help you identify potentially cancerous marks early, making for an easy recovery.”
But in order to effectively identify dangerous marks, you must first know what to look for. Dr Valente highlights: “You need to pay attention to new moles or other types of growths on your body. Once you identify a new mark, you need to keep track of it in terms of asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution.”
The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, is vital to be caught in its earliest stages. This is why physicians developed the ABCDEs, also known as the five signs that you need to consider when scanning your skin for dangerous marks.
The 5 warning signs and how to detect them
Not all moles, spots or marks that appear on the skin are dangerous. People who have a higher number of marks on their skin are at higher risk of developing melanoma, mostly because they tend to lose track of marks and their development.
Dr Valente advises, “Knowing your skin well is important because you can easily recognise changes in the moles on your body.”
Discover the top signs you need to pay attention to and if you recognise any of these, you need to book a screening with your physician immediately.
1. The asymmetry of a mark
The first characteristic that distinguishes a regular mole from a malignant mole is its consistent shape. If the mole is symmetrical, splitting it in half results in two identical pieces. If the shape is asymmetrical, the two split pieces do not match and it is a warning sign for deadly melanoma.
2. The border
Regular moles have distinct and focussed edges, while harmful ones have uneven borders with blurred margins. These edges gradually fade as the mark extends.
3. The colour of the mark
Usually, we have more than a few moles on our bodies. The regular ones tend to have a similar colour or shade of brown. Moles that appear in colours different to what we already have are a cause of concern. These can be white, darker or blue moles. Similarly, having a variety of colours in one single mark can be indicative of skin cancer.
4. The diameter
Although size isn’t always characteristic of dangerous moles, benign ones are usually smaller than cancerous ones. The normal diameter of a mark is a quarter inch or 6mm. However, cancerous marks can be even smaller if detected soon.
5. Evolution of the mark
Considering all the signs discussed so far, it is important to take these into account when tracking the development of your moles. Any changes in size, shape, edges, colouration or other traits should prompt you to visit your physician for a thorough examination.
Most marks do not appear directly with the characteristics described above. These develop over time, due to increased sun exposure and insufficient protection. If you want to know more about the different types moles and how you can prevent these, Dr Valente is here to offer a helping hand with any questions you may have.