I’ve written before about my brush with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It’s most commonly caused by skin damage resulting from UV (sun) exposure. Your skin and your health are too precious to neglect. Be aware of any suspicious moles on your body and take swift action! New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma in the world, it’s important to at least have a general idea of melanoma warning signs.
All information presented here is available online at the Skin Cancer Foundation, a great international organisation devoted to help.
Science knows a lot about melanoma warning signs. Modern medicine uses the acronym ABCDE to help people quickly understand what warning signs they should look for.
A – Asymmetry
Imagine drawing a line through the middle of a mole. If the two sides match in size & shape then it’s symmetrical. However, if the size & shape don’t match then it’s asymmetrical which is a warning sign for melanoma.
B – Border
A non-suspicious mole has smooth & even boarders. In a suspicious mole the borders are often uneven. For example, the edges might be notched, scalloped or otherwise show some variation.
C – Colour
Non-suspicious moles are usually all one colour, for example a single shade of brown. If a mole has a variety of colours, which might range from different shades of brown to black, or if it’s completely black, then this is a potential warning sign.
D – Diameter
Normal moles are usually fairly small compared to melanomas. Though sizes can always vary from person to person, a general rule of thumb is that if a mole is larger than the eraser on the end of a pencil (around 6mm) then you should probably consider having a closer look or even consulting your health practitioner.
E – Evolving
This is perhaps one of the most important things to look out for. Most normal moles look the same over time. Evolving refers to changes in a mole over time, such as a change in shape, size, colour or any other characteristic. Also, be mindful of other symptoms such as crusting, itching or bleeding moles – all signs that you should see your doctor.
We know a lot more about melanoma today than we did even a couple of decades ago. The modern advice to reduce melanoma risk factors is:
- Examine your skin frequently
- See your doctor immediately if you find anything suspicious, early detection & treatment is always better
- Never get sun burned
- Seek the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm
- Cover up exposed skin with appropriate clothing
- Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds
- Use a good quality sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
- Apply sunscreen to your body 30 minutes before heading outside & reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
Be aware of melanoma warning signs. Melanoma is horrible! Please stay mindful of your skin & body, it’s important to follow up anything suspicious with your doctor ASAP. Don’t forget you can help us fight back by including a contribution with your order (thanks!).
Nicola from Little Olive Tree