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Spotting a Melanoma Early…

People on the beachApproximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.

More than 750,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women.

It is important to ensure that you know what to look for and that detection happens as early as is possible. The earlier any problems are spotted the more likely is can be handled effectively.

How do I check to make sure my skin is healthy and cancer free?

The easy and quick answer to this is to get your Doctor to make sure on your behalf!

At Hoppers Lane General Practice we would encourage you to have regular checks. Our doctors are always happy to ease any fears you may have.

We have put together some of the classic symptoms of a melanoma so you can be proactive if you spot something that you are not sure about.

The first symptom of a melanoma is usually the appearance of a new spot or a change in an existing freckle or mole. The change may be in size, shape or colour and can usually be noticed over several weeks or months.

The ABCDE guidelines provide a useful way to monitor your skin and will help you to spot the early signs of melanoma. This is just a guide and melanoma may present with different characteristics. If you are even slightly concerned make an appointment with your GP. Regular skin checks from a professional are important to ensure that any changes are detected early. 

We would suggest that you seek expert advice if you notice any of the following:

A is for ASYMMETRY:

One-half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for BORDER irregularity:

The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.

C is for COLOUR variation:

The colour is not the same all over. There may be differing shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white, or blue.

D is for DIAMETER:

The area is larger than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) or is growing bigger.

E is for EVOLVING:

Changes in size, shape, colour, elevation, or another trait can be an indicator. Itching, bleeding or crusting are also warning signs to be aware of. Crusting is likely the strongest of all of the warning signs)

How do I make sure I don’t miss anything?

  • Stand in front of a full-length mirror in a well-lit room.
  • Start at the top and work your way down your body.
  • Don’t forget your scalp. Begin by using a brush or hairdryer to part your hair into sections so that you can check properly. If you struggle ask a friend or partner to help.
  • Move to your face and neck. Don’t forget your ears, nostrils and lips.
  • Be sure to check both the top and underneath of your arms and don’t forget your fingernails.
  • As you move down your body don’t forget to check places where the sun doesn’t shine! Melanoma can be found in places that do not have exposed skin.
  • Ask a partner or family member to check your back.
  • The best way to monitor changes of your skin is by taking photographs every few months and comparing them to identify any changes. React quickly if you see something growing and/or changing.

 

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