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How to check your skin for signs of skin cancer
Posted 6 February 2020
Did you know that skin cancers rarely hurt? They are more likely to be seen than felt. That’s why it’s important to check your skin regularly for any new spots or changes to existing freckles or moles.
Diem Tram from Cancer Council SA explains how to check your skin for signs of skin cancer, and what to look for.
How to check your own skin
- Make sure you check your entire body as skin cancers can sometimes occur on parts of the body that aren’t exposed to the sun, like on the soles of your feet, between fingers and toes or under nails.
- Undress completely and make sure you have good light.
- Use a mirror to check hard to see spots, like your back and scalp, or get a family member, partner or friend to check it for you.
What to look for
Following the ABCDE guide can help detect early signs of melanoma on the skin, but don’t forget to also look out for dry, scaly spots that might be itchy or ulcerate which are indicators of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Asymmetry – The spot/lesion is halved and the two halves are not mirroring each other.
Border – Spots with edges that are spreading or jagged
Colour – Different colours throughout the spot
Diameter – Look for spots that are getting bigger
Evolving – Spots that are changing in colour or shape or growing
Should you get your skin professionally checked regularly?
If you notice any new spots or existing spots that are changing in colour, shape or size, see your GP as soon as possible. Your GP will be able to diagnose, treat or refer you to a specialist.
When should you see your GP?
Cancer Council SA doesn’t recommend population-based skin cancer screening. It’s instead recommended people become familiar with their own skin and self-check it regularly. However, if you’re high risk for skin cancer, speak to your doctor about a suitable surveillance plan.
How can you prevent skin cancer?
Slip, slop, slap, seek and slide! By following these steps you’ll give your skin the best chance of being protected.
- Slip on clothing to cover up as much of your skin as possible
- Slop on some sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
- Slap on a hat that protects your whole face, ears and neck
- Seek shade
- Slide on your sunnies
For more information head to https://www.cancersa.org.au/cut-my-risk/i-want-to-cut-my-risk/be-sunsmart