Skin Cancer, Skin Checks, Melanoma Awareness
You may have lived with a suspicious-looking mole for quite some time and assume that it’s completely harmless. The reality is that skin cancers such as melanoma don’t always announce their presence, however there are some early signs that are definitely a cause for concern.
The best thing you can do is be familiar with the early signs of skin cancers - especially melanoma – and if you notice any of them, get checked by your GP or a skin cancer detection specialist such as MoleMap as soon as possible.
Changes in your skin – what’s dangerous and what’s normal?
Your skin is constantly changing, which is totally normal. However, a change in the colour, size or shape of a mole is often a sign that something may be wrong, even though the problem may not necessarily be skin cancer. If a mole becomes paler or darker, or if new and different colours appear in addition to the original colour, you should certainly have it checked.
Above: You can use the ABCDE rule to help identify moles of concern, but by far the surest way of detecting skin cancer is to have regular screenings
What if a mole is getting bigger?
One common warning sign of a cancerous mole is a change in size. The mole will often become bigger, although it may become smaller as well. Both changes are a cause for concern. One important thing to note is that dangerous moles typically grow unevenly and have ragged or uneven borders (see the examples towards the bottom of the page).
The general rule is that if a mole is bigger than 6mm (i.e. the end of a pencil), get it checked next time you’re at the doctor or having a skin and mole check.
Above: If a mole is larger than 6mm in diameter you should have it checked by a skin cancer specialist
What are the other signs of skin cancer?
Changes in the shape, texture or height of moles may be signs of danger too. A mole that is asymmetric and/or has uneven edges can be a sign of melanoma. It may feel bumpy and/or rough to the touch – or you may feel a hard lump. A lump doesn’t have to be big for the growth to be dangerous.
Normal moles and freckles are typically smooth and don’t feel rough or bumpy when you go over your skin with your finger. Skin cancers, on the other hand, are often raised (although conversely, just because it’s raised doesn’t automatically mean it’s a sign of skin cancer!).
Above: melanoma comes in many forms and can be difficult to identify
Don’t scratch that itch!
A mole that becomes itchy, dry, scaly or flaky all of a sudden should certainly raise red flags. It’s important to resist the temptation to scratch it, as this may worsen the problem. If that sounds familiar, book a specialist check straight away to assess for skin cancer and prevent it from spreading any further.
Cancerous moles often start oozing or bleeding eventually. These symptoms almost always cause patients to seek medical help, although we recommend getting any suspicious moles checked before these symptoms appear.
Above: a quality skin cancer detection service will have leading skin cancer detection technology
Two out of three New Zealanders will get skin cancer in their lifetime1, so don’t wait until the signs and symptoms become more obvious before having your skin and moles checked.
The earlier skin cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully, so if you’re concerned about a suspicious mole, give our helpful team a call on 0800 665 362 and describe your symptoms accurately.
Note: If you’ve had a recent Full-Body MoleMap, you’re entitled to free spot checks within 12 months of your appointment. So don’t hesitate to contact us if you you’re worried – a spot check only takes a few minutes and it’s always better to know.Book a MoleMap
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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