Most people are proactive when it comes to skin protection from the sun. So why not have the same proactive attitude to keeping a regular eye on skin spots and moles?
There are different types of skin cancer, with some being more dangerous than others. The more dangerous Melanoma type can grow very quickly and become life-threatening in as little as six weeks, having the potential to spread to other parts of the body, especially if left untreated.
Keeping an eye on spots, blemishes, freckles, moles and birthmarks that are new, have changed or stand out as being different to the surrounding skin, is the first step in identifying potential skin cancers. These changes may be noticed over several weeks or months.
It is important to be methodical when checking your skin, making sure to work from head to toe, even in areas that are not exposed to the sun. Ask a partner or family member to check your back and scalp, the latter being easier to check with a hairdryer or comb.
When checking skin there is a simple ABCDE guideline to identifying potential skin cancer and it is important that you seek a professional skin check if you notice any of the following:
A for ASYMMETRY:
A spot, mole or birthmark that is not round or one side does not match the other.
B for BORDER;
Uneven borders where the edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
C for COLOUR:
The colour is uneven or unusual and may vary in shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of white, red or blue.
D for DIAMETER:
The area is larger than 6 millimetres in width.
E for EVOLVING:
If size, shape, colour, elevation, or other effects such as itching, bleeding or crusting occur then this is a sure warning sign to have the spot or mole checked professionally.
Checking skin regularly and having skin checks will compliment your overall efforts for skin cancer prevention, plus having a proactive attitude will surely help when you do enjoy fun in the sun.
The risk of developing skin cancer can be determined by factors such as age, skin type and family history and the frequency and level of previous sun exposure. These factors can be discussed with your doctor within a consultation, and from there the frequency of professional skin cancer checks can be recommended.