Melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer, is best treated as early as possible. Caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays, it develops in the pigment-producing cells, Melanocytes. It can quickly grow and spread to other organs in the body, so the sooner you spot it, the more likely you will be able to make a full recovery.
Recently, a hockey fan at an NHL game in the US spotted an aggressive-looking mole on the neck of a team manager – and alerted him about it. Lucky for him too, as it turned out to be Melanoma. However, spotting Melanoma isn’t always easy, especially when you don’t know what you should be looking out for.
If you want to stand the best chance of spotting Melanoma early and getting it treated, here are 5 tips you can follow.
1. Look out for asymmetry
One of the key warning signs of Melanoma is asymmetry. Most benign moles have a symmetrical design. If you were to place a line down the middle of them, they would look the same on either side. With Melanoma, however, the mole or new area of skin discolouration will be asymmetrical.
2. Check for colour changes in moles
The colour of the mole or spot can be an indicator of Melanoma. Most benign moles are a single colour, typically brown. Moles that are malignant on the other hand, tend to have differing shades of brown, red, or black. They can also feature white, blue, and red. Pay attention to the colour of the mole and watch out for any changes.
3. Pay attention to the borders
Moles or spots that are cancerous tend to have irregular borders. That is, they may have notched or scalloped edges. As well as being symmetrical, benign moles also have neat and smooth borders. So, if the border is smooth and even, it likely isn’t anything to worry about. However, you should still get it checked out quickly just to be sure.
4. Measure the size of the spot or mole
The diameter of the spot or mole can also be a tell-tale sign of Melanoma. Cancerous moles are larger in diameter than benign moles. Typically, moles that are larger than ¼ inch in size could be malignant. The exception to this is if the Melanoma is in its early stages. Here, the mole will appear smaller, growing larger as the cancer progresses.
5. Check your spots and moles frequently
The key way of spotting Melanoma early is by regularly checking your moles or any skin discolouration. Keep an eye on them for any changes in colour, shape, and size. Changes can occur gradually, so pay close attention to even the slightest of changes.
The above are the top 5 tips for spotting Melanoma. Even in winter, the sun’s rays can damage the skin. Taking just a few minutes to scan your moles for changes could potentially save your life. Catching Melanoma early greatly enhances the chances of survival.
For more advice, call us on 020 3770 5864 to arrange an appointment at the HCA Lister Hospital Clinics (Chelsea Outpatient Centre and Chiswick Medical Centre) or call 020 7808 2785 to book a consultation with Mr Myles Smith at the Royal Marsden Hospital.