Melanoma Awareness, Skin Cancer, Skin Checks
Every year, New Zealand sees many newly diagnosed cancer cases; around 80 percent of them are skin cancers. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
When you identify skin cancer early, you have a better chance of avoiding serious malignancies, surgery, possible disfigurement, and even death. It is, therefore, vital for you to monthly self-check for any signs of skin cancer.
MoleMap recommends having your skin checked by your doctor, dermatologist or MoleMap melanographer, each year and conducting a self check every three months in between annual appointments. Here’s how:
Follow these 5 main steps to self-examine your skin.
1. Recognise the types of skin cancer.
2. Know your ABCDEF and G's.
3. Perform a monthly skin self-check.
4. Note anything that is concerning or changing.
5. Show your doctor or MoleMap melanographer if you have spots or moles of concern.
Here are each of these steps in detail.
Above: Melanoma can develop as a change in an existing spot, such as a change in the shape, color or size.
1) Recognise the types of moles, spots, and skin cancer
While there are a variety of different moles and spots to keep your eye on, and some may be benign, you should be aware of the below types.
Above: The ABCDE rule
2) Know your ABCDEF and G’s
These represent red flags that should prompt you to get a spot screening or full body screening.
A: Asymmetry — If the lesion or spot is divided in half; the two halves don’t look alike.
B: Border — A spot with an irregular or spreading edge.
C: Color — A spot that has various colors through it.
D: Diameter — A spot that grows and changes in size or diameter.
E: Elevation — A raised mole or spot.
F: – Firmness — A spot or mole that feels firm and solid and when pressed, doesn’t flatten.
G: – Growth — A mole or spot that’s growing.
Know also that skin cancer may not hurt; you can see it, but you may not feel it.
Above: Regularly check your skin for new moles or existing moles that's changed.
3) Perform a regular self check - Step-by-step guide
The best time to perform your regular skin self-examination is before or after a shower. Choose a day every three months that you’ll stick to, such as the first or last day of the month, or every 15th of the month for consistency.
You’ll need a good source of light and two mirrors (one full-length, the other a small hand mirror). A comb or blow dryer works well for examining your scalp and, if possible, your partner or spouse as a second pair of eyes.
Besides reviewing your A, B, C, D, E, F, and G’s described above, look for:
Below is a step-by-step guide to checking yourself for skin cancer.
1. Use the full-length mirror to check both the front, back, left, and right sides of your body. Raise your arms when doing this, and check under your breasts if you’re a woman.
2. Bend your elbows to carefully check the back of your fingernails, palms, upper arms, and forearms.
3. Closely examine the backs of your feet and legs, your toenails, soles, and in between your toes. Use the handheld mirror if you can’t see all the parts of your feet.
4. Examine your face, scalp, ears, and neck. Be sure to remember the backs of your scalp, ears, and neck, using the handheld mirror (or your partner). Check your scalp entirely by parting your hair and moving it around with the comb or blow dryer. Again, you can have your partner perform this step.
5. Check your buttocks and back using the handheld mirror if you’re uncomfortable having your partner do it for you.
Above: If there are any unusual moles follow up with your doctor or MoleMap melanographer
4 and 5 - Note anything that is concerning or changing. Follow up with your doctor or MoleMap melanographer
If you have noticed any spots or moles that concern you, these should be shown to your doctor or a specialist service for assessment. If the spot or lesion has features of melanoma this should be presented as soon as possible
Here at MoleMap, we can view the external and subsurface structure of any mole using state-of-the-art imaging equipment at one of our many clinics. MoleMap cameras see what’s going on below the surface of your moles — seeing far more than your naked eye. This coupled with the diagnosis of a specialist dermatologist gives you access to an expert opinion when you need it.
For comprehensive surveillance of all your spots and moles MoleMap provides a Full Body MoleMap service. This service also includes free spot spot checks for spots or moles you are concerned about in between annual appointments
Schedule your Full Body MoleMap session online or give us a call at 0800 665 362 today.
Note: This quick questionnaire is designed to give you an idea of your personal skin cancer risk factors.
It isn’t intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis – please contact us if you have any questions about your skin cancer risk.
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