Early Detection is Key!
How to detect Malignant Melanoma
Malignant melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer, but it is the most serious and can kill! It affects the pigment producing cells known as melanocytes that are found in the skin. It can appear as a new mole, or from an existing mole on the skin. Malignant melanoma has the potential to spread to other sites and organs within the body, making early detection of the disease vital for survival. Malignant melanoma is curable if treated early, but is much more difficult to treat if it has started to spread.
Those most at risk from melanoma are those with fair skin, lots of moles and/or freckles or a family history of skin cancer - however, everyone is at risk, especially if they have had incidence of bad sun burn, spent lots of time in the sun or have used sun beds.
A melanoma can grow anywhere on the body, so it is important to check your entire body regularly (once per month) for any changes or abnormalities. You may have some moles or dark patches on your skin that are flat or slightly raised - usually these will remain harmless, however you should to detect any moles or patches that have changes in shape, size or colour.
The ABCD of Melanoma
You should consult your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following signs that indicate a potential melanoma:
Changing shape, particularly getting an irregular outline.
Changing colour, getting darker, becoming patchy or multi-shaded.
An existing mole getting bigger or a new mole growing quickly.
If a mole starts to itch or become painful.
If a mole is bleeding, becoming crusty and or looks inflamed.
The ABCD of melanoma rule (right) will help you to remember what to look out for. The example photographs show abnormal moles and melanomas, but remember if you notice ANY changes or unusual marks that have lasted more than a few weeks, you must consult your doctor immediately.
LEARN ABOUT OTHER SKIN CANCERS
LEARN MORE ABOUT TREATMENTS
Skin Health UK offer private skin check services if you are concerned about moles/lesions on your body and would like to get a thorough skin check using expert nurses, backed up by consultant dermatologists for any final diagnosis.
Please note, Skin Health charge for this service in private clinics around the country. If you are worried about a mole or lesion on your body it is essential you get it checked out via private services if preferred, or via your own GP who can refer you on to a dermatologist if necessary.
If you would like to find out more about Skin Health UK and see if they have a clinic near you click here. Skin Health UK make a donation to Skcin for every skin health check they carry out.