Skin cancer: Dr Chris outlines the signs of a melanoma
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Melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for four percent of all new cancer cases. Detecting melanoma at an early stage is crucial, as this can vastly increase your chances for cure. However, identifying the cancer is not easy. Here are some signs to look for:
There are two main categories of skin cancer
Non melanoma skin cancer: This type of cancer includes basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer and other rare types.
Melanoma skin cancer: This type starts in cells in the skin called melanocytes.
Skin cancer may occasionally appear as an irregular patch on the surface of the skin, or a rash.
These rashes can appear on any part of the body, from the feet to the head, and can even hide between the cracks and crevices of your skin.
Actinic keratoses, appears as a cluster of scaly dark skin-coloured bumps that appear on sun-exposed skin.
As the cancer grows, the shape or size of visible skin mass may change. It may also ooze or bleed easily.
Regular examination of the skin for any new or unusual growth, or changes in the appearance of moles is crucial.
The NHS says: “The first signs of a melanoma is often a new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole.
“Normal moles are generally proud or oval, with a smooth edge and usually no bigger than 6mm in diameter.
“But size is not a sure sign of melanoma. A healthy mole can be larger than 6mm in diameter, and a cancerous mole can be smaller than this.
“See a GP as soon as possible if you notice changes in a mole, freckle or patch of skin, particularly if the changes happen over a few weeks or months.”
Check each mole you have for the ABCDEs of melanoma:
A: Asymmetry – one side of the mole looks different than the other
B: Border – the border of the mole looks irregular and fuzzy
C: Colour – the mole is more than one colour
D: Diameter – the mole is larger than 6 milimetres across
E: Evolving – the mole’s shape or colour has changed.
Professor Mel Ziman, head of Melanoma Research Group, said: “It’s critical that melanoma is diagnosed more accurately and early.
“So a blood test would help in that identification, particularly at early stage melanoma, which is what is the most concerning and would be beneficial for everybody if it was identified early.”
The thin tissue surrounding the eyes, including the upper and lower eyelids, are extremely vulnerable to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
In rare cases, melanoma can develop in the eye, usually affecting the eyeball.
When melanoma spreads to the eyelids, it usually appears as a pigmented thickening of the eyelid.
The NHS notes: “Noticing a dark spot or changes in vision can be signs of eye melanoma, although it’s more likely to be diagnosed during a routine eye examination.”
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