Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It can spread very quickly and become deadly. But the good news is, if it’s found early, there’s a higher chance of effective treatment and recovery. That’s why knowing what to look out for is essential.
The most obvious warning signs for melanoma are changes to your skin or moles. It might be how they look or how they feel. It’s important to note that these changes aren’t generally accompanied by pain, so early warning signs can go unnoticed if you’re not vigilant about checking your skin regularly. In fact, recent studies in the US found that 56.3% of melanomas detected by American Dermatologists had not been noticed by the patient1.
So what do you need to look out for? Read on to find out.
Moles – what’s normal?
Most moles appear when we’re children or young adults. Generally, normal moles are:
- Evenly-coloured (pink or flesh coloured, brown, tan or black)
- Flat or raised on the skin
- Round or oval
- Most often, less than 6 millimetres across.
Once developed, a mole usually stays the same size, shape and colour for many years. If a mole appears later in life that wasn’t there before, get it checked by your doctor.
Please tell us your name
Please enter a valid email
Check for changes
The most important warning signs of melanoma are any new spots on the skin or ones that change. If you notice any changes such as a change in size, shape or colour, it could suggest a melanoma may be developing.
The ABCDE rule
The ABCDE rule is a simple guide to recognising the early signs of melanoma. Look out for the following:
Asymmetry – the shape of one half doesn’t match the other
Border – the edges are often ragged, notched or uneven
Colour – the colour is uneven with different shades or patches of colour
Diameter – The spot is larger than 6 millimetres across
Evolving – look for new moles or changes to any moles
The EFG rule
The EFG rule is another guide that recognises a type of melanoma known as nodular melanoma. More common in men over 50, nodular melanoma can grow very quickly so early detection and treatment is vital. Be on the lookout for:
Elevated: Moles that are raised on the skin.
Firm: Moles that are firm to touch.
Growing: Moles that grow and change very rapidly. The change may not always be visible at first, it might become itchy or just feel funny.
Other warning signs
Along with the guides above, there can be other warning signs. Some of these are:
- A sore that doesn’t heal.
- A spot or mole that is different to others on your skin.
- Itching or bleeding on the skin.
- Any other changes to a spot, mole or area of your skin.
How can you spot melanoma yourself?
Learn how to check your skin regularly and get to know your skin well. It’s a good idea to do a self-check at least every three months (at the beginning of each season is a good rule of thumb). Use a small mirror to check all areas, freckles and moles – and if possible, ask someone to check the areas you can’t see, such as your neck, scalp and back.
If you find any changes or have any concerns about your skin, visit your GP or book an appointment with MoleMap straight away. It may not be anything of concern, but it’s always best to get it checked out.
To learn more about melanoma and the risks of developing it click here, or to discover the range of skin check services offered by MoleMap click here
References: 1. Kantor J, Kantor DE. Routine Dermatologist-Performed Full-Body Skin Examination and Early Melanoma Detection. Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(8):873–876. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.137.