Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, so Aussies need to be extra vigilant about potential melanoma symptoms. Self-examination is the best way to detect trouble spots early on and cut them out before they spread.
Aussies are famous around the world for our love of sunshine and the great outdoors. But too much of a good thing can be dangerous, even deadly.
Our grandparents’ generation wasn’t as aware of the dangers of melanoma as we are, and regular self-examination wasn’t common. Fortunately, these days we are much more aware of melanoma symptoms, and the need to regularly monitor for them.
Do You Know What to Look for?
The first sign of a melanoma is usually the appearance of a new spot, or a change in an existing freckle or mole. The change may be in size, shape or colour, and is normally around for several weeks or months.
If you’re not sure what to look out for, the ‘ABCDEFG ‘can be used to help identify abnormal moles.
These guidelines are very useful for monitoring your skin and detecting the early signs of melanoma.
So here is what to look for:
• Asymmetrical skin lesion - the mole isn’t a perfect circle, but rather, appears asymmetrical
• Border of the lesion is irregular - you can detect a scalloped or poorly defined border
• Colour - melanomas usually have multiple colours. You may see shades of tan and brown, black, red, white or blue
• Diameter - moles greater than 6mm are more likely to be melanomas than smaller moles
• Enlarging - you notice the mole increasing in size
Unfortunately, you can’t identify all melanomas by following these guidelines, as some of them are very good at avoiding detection. For example, there’s a type of melanoma called nodular melanoma, an aggressive form of melanoma that grows quickly and has much fewer positive outcomes. These melanomas often begin as a red nodule. While their appearance can be mistaken for a pimple, they are much firmer to touch.
As well as the above method, there is an additional ‘EFG’.
• Elevated: the lesion is raised above the surrounding skin.
• Firm: the nodule is solid to the touch.
• Growing: the nodule is increasing in size.
Now that you know which melanoma symptoms to look for, here are some tips on how to give yourself a self examination (heading 2)
• Stand in front of a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. Good lighting is important
• Be systematic. Start at the top and work your way down your body
• Move to your face and neck, and don’t forget your ears, nostrils and lips
• Be sure to check both the top and underneath of your arms. Don’t forget your fingernails
• As you move down your body, don’t forget to check places where the sun doesn’t shine! Melanoma can be found in places that do not have exposed skin, such as under your feet!
• Ask a partner or family member to help with checking your scalp and back
If you do happen to spot a suspicious mole, report it immediately to a GP or a dermatologist.
When in Doubt, Cut it Out
Unfortunately, the surgeons do have it right on this one. Because melanomas are sometimes difficult to detect, don’t be surprised if your doctor suggests cutting it out, so he/she can send it off for a diagnosis, even if it doesn’t look serious.
SO CAN YOU PICK A MELANOMA?
Remember, self-examination is the key here. And if you do find a spot, you’re uncertain about call one to make an appointment with one of our doctors for a BULK BILL SKIN CHECK on 1300 344 325. It might be nothing, but do you really want to take that chance?