Skin cancer can be seen, and knowing your skin can make the difference. Check yourself regulary and look for changes, because skin cancer can be treated if caught early enought. Always consult your dermatologist in case of doubt.
Everyone has skin spots. They are a perfectly normal part of growing up and growing older.
However, every now and again, they may be a warning of something more dangerous.
So be sure to check your skin regularly for suspicious looking spots. If in doubt, consult your dermatologist.
Check your own skin and that of your loved ones once a month. Be on the lookout for spots that:
- Change size, colour and/or shape
- Look different to the others
- Are asymmetrical
- Feel rough or scaly, sometimes you can feel
the lesions before you can see them
- Are multi-coloured
- Are itchy
- Are bleeding or oozing
- Look pearly
- Look like a wound but do not heal
Look for the warning signs of skin cancer. Consult your dermatologist if you see two or more.
SIGNS OF MELANOMA
Moles on the same person often look similar:
- the same shape and same colours. the appearance of a pigmented lesion may be considered suspicious if it is different from the others. this is called the ‘Ugly duckling’ sign.
- remember the ABCDE signs of melanoma: early detection is the first factor to successful treatment.
A - IS THE SPOT ASYMETRIC?
B - DOES IT HAVE UNEVEN BORDERS?
C - DOES IT CONTAINS DIFFERENT COULOURS?
D - IS THE DIAMETER LARGER THAN 6MM?
E - IS THERE AN EVOLUTION IN GROWTH?
4 MAIN TYPES OF SKIN CANCER
1. BASAL CELL CARCINOMA
this is the most common form of skin cancer, but also the least dangerous. it typically takes
the form of an elevated skin-coloured lump with a shiny, pearl-like edge, a wound that does not
heal or a slightly crusty lump, which grows slowly over time. in very rare cases, this type of skin
cancer can spread to other parts of the body. if left untreated for a long time, it may ulcerate and
invade deeper tissues.
2. ACTINIC KERATOSIS
these red-brown, scaly and rough skin spots most commonly occur in middle-aged individuals and
the elderly, or in areas exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, ears, the back of the hands
and scalp (in men with baldness). these lesions appear regularly and often point to intense sun
exposure. they are precancerous lesions, which in 10 to 15% of cases may transform into squamous
3. SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
this is the second most common type of skin cancer. it typically occurs in areas of the skin
which have had a lot of exposure to sun such as the face and scalp. it takes the form of a crusty
lump that may grow quickly, in which case it may become ulcerated and weepy. they can spread
rapidly, especially if on the lips, ears, and digits or if the patient is immunosuppressed. Surgical
treatment is essential..
this is the least frequent type of skin cancer, but more dangerous, as it can spread internally. it can
appear in younger age groups compared to basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. it
presents as spots that become darkly pigmented or develop irregular edges or variegated colours
over weeks or months. it may present as a pink or red lump with pigmentation and these usually
grow faster. immediate treatment is required.
Download and print the table of 23 lesions
Skin cancer is most common in people over 50 or people with prolonged or intense exposure to the sun. But it can affect younger adults too.
People with a higher than normal risk:
- Have fair skin or are prone to sunburn
- Were sunburned during childhood
- Spend or have spent a lot of time in the sun (e.g. for work or hobby)
- Have periodical sun exposure (e.g. on holidays)
- Use sunbeds (or have in the past)
- Have more than 50 moles
- Have a family history of skin cancer
- Are over the age of 50
- Have undergone an organ transplant
Note: Even if you’re not at high risk, you could still develop skin cancer.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Consult your doctor or dermatologist if in doubt.
How and where to look
We will need: a bright light, a full-length mirror, a hand mirror, 2 chairs, a blow dryer, body maps and a pencil or, ideally, a digital camera.
|Examine your face, especially the nose, lips, mouth, and ears – front and back. Use mirrors to get a clear view.|
|Inspect your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member, even a child, to help, if it is possible.|
|Check your hands: palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Examine both front and back of your forearms.|
|Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms.|
|Look to the neck and chest. Women should lift the breasts to see beneath.|
|With your back to a full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back, and any part of the back of your upper arms.|
|Still using mirrors don't forget your lower back, buttocks, and backs of both legs.|
|Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin, ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of feet and heels.|
How to prevent skin cancer
Use your common sense when in the sun to minimise the risk of skin cancer.
- Maximize protection measures for children (regular use of a high sun protection factor sunscreen (30 to 50), shirt and hat).
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
- Avoid sunbeds and tanning booths.
- Seek shade and stay out of the sun at its strongest (between 11am and 4pm).
- Protect your skin and eyes (hat, shirt, sunglasses).
- Don’t let your skin go red in the sun: avoid sunburn!
- Ensure you check your skin regularly, and visit your doctor or dermatologist if you find anything unusual.
For more information about the different types of skin spots and what
they mean, visit our website:www.euromelanoma.org
Dear healthcare professional,
You see more of your clients’ skin than they see themselves. You are therefore ideally placed to identify potentially dangerous skin spots before they become a problem. So if you see something suspicious, be sure to recommend that your client sees a dermatologist. It could prevent serious health problems and may even save their life.
The leaflet below explains what to look for.
For more information about the different kinds of skin spots, what they mean and how they can be treated, you can also refer them to our main website:
Thank you for joining the fight to prevent skin cancer.
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