With skin cancer affecting as many as two thirds of people in Australia, it's vital to be able to spot the signs early. Many skin cancers start as a mole that changes in size, shape or appearance. By learning these five easy-to-remember signs of a cancerous mole, you can detect skin cancer in its earliest stage, when it is easiest to treat.
When a mole becomes cancerous, it often begins to grow outward in a single direction. This can lead to the mole losing its normally symmetrical appearance. Hold a hand mirror up to the centre of your mole to see what it would look like if both sides were identical. Compare this image to the actual shape of the mole. If you spot any asymmetry, it's a good idea to get the mole checked out.
2. Irregular Border
Another sign of a mole that is beginning to spread is a border that doesn't look regular. If the border of your mole is bumpy or uneven, it could be starting to turn cancerous.
A healthy mole has an even colour, which is usually brown or dark brown. If your mole contains unusual colours, such as blue, red, purple or black, you should get it checked. Many cancerous moles contain a range of colours, so inspect your moles closely for signs of subtle discolouration.
4. Large Diameter
Very large moles are more likely to be cancerous than smaller moles. Cancerous moles also usually expand, which can make them very large. Pay close attention to any moles that are larger than 6 mm in diameter, as these are most likely to develop into melanoma skin cancers.
The biggest warning sign is a mole that changes in appearance. That's why it's so important to check your skin regularly; when you are familiar with the appearance, size and location of all your moles, you can quickly notice differences that could signal danger. See your doctor when you detect a new mole or a mole that grows, changes colour or changes its appearance in some other way.
Remember Your ABCDE…
Are you worried that you won't remember all five signs of skin cancer? Just take a look at the first letter of each sign: asymmetry, border, colour, diameter and evolving. Simply by recalling the letters of the alphabet from A to E, you can remember these five signs. Use them regularly to check your moles for signs of disease.