Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. They arise from moles that have undergone abnormal changes. Exposure to sunbeds and intense ultraviolet light from the sun increases the risk of melanoma.
This May is the Melanoma Awareness Month. It is important to check your moles regularly. Here are a few tips on how to spot skin cancer.
A simple and useful way to check your moles is using the ‘ABCDE’ guide:
A – Asymmetry
Most harmless moles are symmetrical. Imagine splitting the mole into two halves. Are both halves mirroring each other? If not, the mole is asymmetrical and warrants a check from your doctor.
B – Border irregularity
Most harmless moles have a smooth border. Imagine drawing a line around the edge of your mole. If the line is uneven or notched, please get your mole checked.
C – Colour
Most harmless moles have one uniform colour. If there are a range of different colours within a mole, the mole may be abnormal and needs to be checked.
D – Diameter
Most harmless moles tend to be small (<7mm). If you have a larger mole which stands out from the other smaller moles on your skin, that larger mole needs to be checked.
E – Evolution
Be vigilant with your moles and spot any changes to your moles. A mole which undergoes changes in any way has the potential to change into an abnormal mole. Report the changes to your doctor.
Be on the alert when a mole starts to itch, hurt or bleed. These are symptoms that may suggest a mole is changing, which needs to be checked.
If melanomas are detected early, there is a good chance of cure. It is never too late to start checking your skin regularly. Let’s make this May your first month to be more skin aware!
Dr Nicole Chiang is a Consultant Dermatologist and a Medical Advisor for Melanoma UK. Below is a series of Professional Football Association’s (PFA) skin cancer awareness campaigns that she has been involved in – performing skin checks for academy players and teaching them how to protect their skin.