...Any skin sore which does not heal, repeatedly bleeds, or looks like an ulcer
...Any new, dark enlarging mole
...Any existing mole that changes in size, changes in colour, or has an irregular border
...Any mole that becomes irritated
A regular skin cancer check with an experienced Doctor, qualified in Dermoscopy, is the best way to detect melanoma early enough.
Melanoma is a skin cancer which can be aggressive and deadly. If it is not diagnosed until it is at an advanced stage it can metastasize (spread to other organs) quickly and cure is much less likely.
However if detected at an early stage a malignant melanoma can be fully excised and any spread prevented. All malignant melanomas need to be removed as soon as suspected or detected.
Melanoma may start as an innocent looking mole, and small changes or irritation may be the indication that it needs to be checked.
Melanoma is usually a brown (pigmented) mole, but it can also be pink, so any new or changing skin spot needs to be checked.
Metastatic Melanoma, also known as Stage IV melanoma, is the general term for the spreading of melanoma into the lymph nodes and/or other parts of the body.
As detailed by the Melanoma Research Foundation, the most dangerous aspect of melanoma is its ability, in later stages, to spread (metastasize) to other organs of the body.
Most often the liver, lungs and brain become affected. Even though the cancer cells have spread to other organs, this cancer is still melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is a very common skin cancer in fair –skinned people who have had a lot of sun exposure.
This means they are more common as we get older, and tend to occur in the areas which have had the most sun. However, they do also appear in young people in their 20s and 30s.
A basal cell carcinoma will often be apparent as an unhealing sore or a new raised skin spot. They do not metastasize, but they do grow and can do harm especially those on the head and neck.
They can be treated in the early superficial stages with freezing (cryotherapy) or creams such as Efudix or Aldara. More advanced BCCs need to be fully removed surgically.
Squamous cell carcinoma is another non- pigmented skin cancer which at times is just a local skin spot or raised nodule needing to removal.
However, SCCs, especially those on the head and neck, can metastisize (spread to other organs in the body).
SCCs are also more common in the exposed parts of our bodies, and more common with getting older.
Like BCCs they can be quite small and superficial and cured by removal.
Sometimes we read an article or see something online that we think adds value to an understanding about skin cancers and melanoma. We are happy to share it with our patients. The link to something like this is pasted below with a quick rationale
Why you might want to believe there's no such thing as a safe tan as explained by Prof H. Peter Soyer - Professor of Dermatology, The University of Queensland - in this article published by The Conversation, Jan 11 2019.
This article from The Conversation published on 8 January 2018 helps to explain what the SPF factor means. There is wide confusion about whether it means you can spend a longer time in the sun, or whether it "covers up" more. "How does sunscreen work, what is SPF and can I still tan with it on?"
This is a link to a good article published in the New Zealand Herald on 3 September 2017.
The article is titled "These are the signs to watch for when checking for skin cancer"