This week, The Conversation reported on a very important topic, spotting the difference between a harmless lesion and one that could be skin cancer. The article acknowledges that while identifying skin cancer early is your best protection, it is often difficult to determine what “spots” could actually be harmful.
A number of characteristics are associated with an increased risk of melanoma, including:
- Number of moles
- skin type and colour (especially if you always burn and never tan in the sun)
- personal history of melanoma or other skin cancer
- unusual-looking moles, larger than five millimetres
- red or light hair
The article also points out that high levels of sun exposure and sunburns can also increase the risk of skin cancer. In a study done, it was found that most people identified melanoma either on their own, or because of their partner. This is an important reminder that self skin checks are very important. The ABCD rule can be applied to determine whether or not a mole should be looked at further by a dermatologist.
The ABCD rule consists of A for asymmetry, B for border irregularity, C for color variation, and D for diameter larger than five millimeters. This rule has been used for longer than 25 years to identify possibly cancerous moles. Since these rules are not always foolproof, doctors have also proposed adding some new letters such as E,F and G. These would stand for elevated, firm, and growing for more than a month.
The article then reminds us to check with professionals in order to field more questions and confirm the severity of a possible cancerous mole. Dermatologists and screening programs such as MoleSafe can help with that.
We at Molesafe couldn’t agree more. Knowing the signs of melanoma is a very important first step, healthcare professionals can then help you to secure your best options.
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