May is #MelanomaAwarenessMonth, and it’s our opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers of melanoma, the importance of early detection, and the many ways to practice sun safety.
There are greater than 1300 cases of Melanoma in Ireland per year, and it is the most serious skin cancer because it can be fatal, however the majority of melanomas once detected early, may be curable.
Melanomas come from the skin’s pigment cells that produce skin color. These cells can be found anywhere we have skin, so melanoma can develop even where the sun doesn’t shine. But it IS most common in areas of most sun exposure or sun-damaged skin.
When detected early, melanoma can be very treatable with surgery. Examine your skin at home with a monthly skin check. Most melanomas start as a new pigmented spot on the skin, but they can develop in a mole you already have too.
For women, the most common location is the leg, and for men, it is the back. Look for anything new, changing or that stands out to you like an “ugly duckling.” A spot that stands out from the rest is an “ugly duckling” and always needs to be checked by an experienced healthcare provider.
Other warning signs include change in shape, size, colour of a mole or occasionally bleeding, itching or scabbing.
Remembering the ABCDEs of skin cancer screening can help you monitor your skin each month during your self-examination:
The ABCDE Rule is broken down as follows:
-Asymmetry: The shape of one half of a mole doesn’t match the other
-Border: Edges of a mole that are ragged, blurred or notched
-Colour: Varies from one part of the mole to another. Can be black, brown, tan, blue, red, pink, white or a mixture of these colours
-Diameter: A mole width of 6mm or larger (size of a pencil eraser, though some melanomas are smaller)
-Evolving: A mole that looks different from the others; is changing in size, shape, colour or texture; or is bleeding or itching
If you’ve any concerns, always see your GP.