Early detection - SAVES LIVES!
Catching a melanoma in its early stages is one of the most important factors in improving the outcome of a melanoma diagnosis. It can literally SAVE A LIFE.
Why is catching it early so important? Because when the tumour is thin and has not invaded downwards from the surface it is less likely to have reached the layers that enable it to spread to other areas of the body, where it is much more difficult to control. Melanoma CAN BE CURED if detected and removed early.
Melanoma can often be detected early by individuals who notice a suspicious 'spot', or who check their skin regularly. Detection does not have to be by doctors or specialists. Many a melanoma has been picked up by a hairdresser, masseuse, spouse or even a concerned stranger!
Often one of the first things people notice is a strange-looking mole and one of the first signs of melanoma is a change in the size, shape or colour of an existing mole. It may also appear as a new, abnormal or "ugly-looking" mole.
Normal moles can mature and vary in colour with age. Moles may grow and can also show some minor changes but any change may be important. When a melanoma develops in an existing mole, the texture of the mole may change. For example it may become hard, lumpy or scaly. Any change should be brought to the attention of a doctor. Although a Melanoma may feel different and may itch, ooze or bleed, it usually does not cause pain. Bleeding usually occurs when an ulcer develops within the Melanoma or after minor trauma.
Get to know your skin (and that of your family members) so that you notice any changes if they occur.
Watch for a change in:
and use the ABCDE check list:
- Asymmetry – The shape of one half of the lesion does not match the other.
- Border – The edges of the lesion are ragged, notched or blurred.
- Colour – The colour of the lesion is uneven. Shades of black, brown and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red or blue also may be seen.
- Diameter – There is a change in size of the lesion.
- Evolving/Elevation – The height of the lesion may increase above the skin surface. Any change at all should be investigated.
Each few months, examine your own skin by looking all over your arms, legs, face/head and body. Use a mirror for the back regions and feet as needed.
Each year, ask your doctor to examine your skin completely - checking all areas. If your doctor is not happy with doing skin examinations, seek a doctor who specialises in this area either as a family doctor (GP) or skin specialist (dermatologist or surgeon).
REMEMBER: EARLY DETECTION GREATLY INCREASES THE CHANCES OF SURVIVAL