Skin cancer signs: How to look for them

The first principle to keep in mind when looking for the telltale symptoms of skin cancer is that it does not represent a one time or only occasional effort. Effective self-checks for skin cancer should be a routine occurrence. Examining all your skin from head to toe once a month, 12 months a year even in seasonal climates, will allow you to detect any changes early - at a stage when most cases can be fully cured. Those regular self-checks should be enhanced by yearly examinations by your doctor and you should immediately contact your physician if you find one or more of the signs of skin cancer.

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Skin cancer signs – the ugly duckling concept

Moles, existing spots or growths and any changes in their appearance often provide the first clues. New moles and growths and any skin lesions that bleed, itch or don’t heal are also warning signs that should not be ignored.

The “ugly duckling” method gives you a tool for putting your self-examinations into context. The idea is that moles and other growths anywhere on your body should resemble each other in shade and shape. Any ugly ducklings that obviously don’t match the others are a warning sign. An asymmetrical shape may also be a sign of melanoma or other skin cancer.

What does a normal mole look like?

Looking for skin cancer signs – the ABCDE method

The ABCDE method expands on the ugly duckling concept in a more precise way, providing tools for evaluating any moles or irregular growths that you have found.

A stands for asymmetry and B refers to any irregularities about the border of the mole. C signifies variations in colour and D for diameter – i.e. any mole with a diameter of over 6mm should be considered with suspicion. E stands for evolution or changes over time.

Keeping both methods in mind as you perform self-checks should maximize your chances for an early discovery of any skin cancer signs.

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