Is it a skin cancer?
When was your last skin check? Skin cancers come in all different shapes and sizes. It is still a leading cause of death and scarring in Australia. Among the most common skin cancers that affect Australians are Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs), Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCCs) and Melanomas.
According to the American Skin Cancer Society these are the possible signs and symptoms of melanoma:
“The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color. Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin (known as the ugly duckling sign).
The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Some melanomas don’t fit these rules. It’s important to tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.
Other warning signs are:
A sore that doesn’t heal
Spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of the mole
Change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.”
Ref: www.cancer.org American Cancer Society
However, sometimes melanomas can be atypical or have a different appearance to the classic textbook definition which is why it is so important that you book for for a regular skin check.
BCCs and SCCs may look like a pink/pearly raised or flat scaly spot/sore with/without blood vessels. A common site for BCCs is the face. They can grow very large which is why it is important to diagnose them early to prevent disfiguring surgery. SCCs are commonly found on sun exposed areas-arms, chest, legs.
If you have a family history of skin cancer, this can raise your risk of developing the same.
When was the last time you had a skin check? If the answer is never, more than one year ago, or if you have any spots that concern you then book for one as soon as possible.
Dr Craig Schmeider is joining the Family Doctors Plus team from 23rd September. Dr Craig has a special interest in skin cancer medicine, is an accredited skin cancer doctor with the Skin Cancer College of Australasia and will complete his Masters of Skin Cancer Medicine through the University of Queensland in 2019.
This makes him a skin check guru – to book an appointment with him, head to the AutoMed App, or call our friendly receptionist on (07) 3357 8192