Skin Cancer

How to Spot the Early Signs of Skin Cancer

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Team Molemap Creator
Posted 05/03/19

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. In fact, it is estimated that every five hours, one person dies from melanoma. This is why Australians need to learn how to monitor their skin and flag any suspicious spots or moles before they become life-threatening.

In 2015, more than 14,000 Australians were diagnosed with some form of skin cancer (Cancer Data Australia Report 2018). Many of the 2,100 deaths reported that year could have been avoided, if those afflicted had caught their cancer earlier.


General Signs of Skin Cancer

Whilst most people are aware that a change in the size and shape of a mole can be a sign of trouble, only a few know that rough, scaly, or itchy skin may also be a warning that you have skin cancer. Below are five less common signs that you need to see your doctor:

  • Moles or bumps that appear elevated or firm to the touch
  • Changes in skin pigmentation
  • Dark streaks or splotches under your finger or toenails
  • Pinkish or reddish dots erupting on the skin (these may resemble pimples)
  • Scaly patches that do not improve when moisturised
  • Changes in your eyesight (melanoma can affect the eyes)
  • Chronic itchiness


The ABCDE Model for Skin Cancer Detection

Melanoma may be the least common type of skin cancer, but it remains the deadliest. That is why it is so important to be aware of the signs of the disease. By not acting on it, you could be putting your life at risk.

The Cancer Council of Australia offers the ABCDE method of detection for those keeping an eye out for skin cancer. If you detect any of the following signs on your skin, go to your GP or dermatologist right away:

  • Asymmetry: Draw a line through a mole. When it looks uneven, or when one side looks different than the other, it’s a warning sign for melanoma.
  • Border: A suspicious mole’s edges tend to be irregular, blurry, or uneven.
  • Colour: Any mole that contains several colours (black, grey, white, pink, red) are not considered normal and need to be checked.
  • Diameter: Moles should not grow larger than about 6mm, or the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving: Any change in a mole is a concern. This includes changes in its size, shape, colour, or texture.


Early Detection Saves Lives

Skin cancer may be on the rise in Australia, but more and more people are learning the importance of early detection. Treating skin cancer before it has a chance to infiltrate cells below the epidermis results in a 90–95% survival rate — even when melanoma is discovered. This is good news for the millions at risk of the disease.

If you have many moles on your skin, we recommend doing regular self-examinations. Learn how to tell the difference between a normal mole from a cancerous mole in this blog article.

If you’ve determined that you are at high risk, we recommend visiting your GP or a specialist melanoma detection clinic like Molemap. Our imaging system enables us to detect skin cancer at its earliest stages — when it’s most treatable. Find a skin clinic near you and book a Molemap check today.

www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma/the-stages-of-melanoma www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/melanoma www.actcancer.org/prevention/sunsmart/skin-cancer-in-australia/ www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/summary www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050905110854.htm www.news-medical.net/news/20150410/Subpopulation-of-tumor-cells-make-melanoma-aggressive.aspx