Lower the Risk of Melanoma With Self-Exams

Over the past 30 years, the number of new cases of melanoma has been increasing by 2.7% every year. This is one of the most common types of cancer and the deadliest of all skin cancers. It is curable if it is diagnosed early, however. The self-exams are among the main methods for prevention and early detection. Find out how to carry out such exams.

What to Look for

The malignant growths are similar to benign moles. That is why they may remain unrecognised for a long time. However, if you know what to look for, you can detect suspicious growths as soon as they appear with melanoma self-exams.

The malignant growths are typically asymmetric. The two halves are different. The suspicious moles have irregular borders and two or more colours, which can range from pale pink to very dark black. These moles are usually larger than 6 mm in diameter. They may one or more smaller moles around them. These are often referred to as satellites.

How to Prepare

Now that you know what to look for during the melanoma self-checks, you need the appropriate tools to do it. You will need a bigger mirror and a small one two. Since the standard pencil eraser is 6 mm in diameter, you should use one for measuring the size of your moles instead of a ruler. You will need a comb and a hair dryer for examining your head. However, things will be a lot easier if you get a close person to do it.

Complete Examination

You need to examine your body from head to toe. Since the head is the hardest part of the body to examine, you should start with your feet. Look at your soles and between your toes as well. Examine carefully the toe nails for any darker spots underneath them.

Use the small mirror to examine the back of your legs. Examine the inner sides of your thighs as well. You will need the small mirror for examining your genital area as well. Use both the big and the small mirror to check your back, neck and buttocks. Look closely under the armpits. Again, the small mirror is the tool which can assist you perfectly.

You should sit in font of the big mirror and use the blow dryer and the comb to get a clear visibility of your scalp. When you examine your head, you must pay close attention to the hair line, to the area around the ears and to the ears themselves. Look inside your nose and inside your mouth as well using the small mirror.

Finally, you should report any suspicious moles immediately after the melanoma self-exam.

4 Skin Cancer Myths Debunked

How much do you know about skin cancer? The reality is that many people are unaware of the dangers associated with this serious medical condition. Find out the truth behind some of the most widespread myths. This will help you to protect yourself and your loved ones in the best possible way.

Only old people get it.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about skin cancer. The statistical data shows that the incidence of melanoma, which is the deadliest of all types, in people aged between 18 and 39 increased by 800% between 1970 and 2010. In most countries around the globe, melanoma is the most common type of cancer in this age group. Another alarming fact is that the number of children between the ages of 0 and 19 diagnosed with this condition increases at a rate of about 2% on an annual basis.

People with darker complexion are safe.

It is true that these people have a lower risk of this condition. However, there are other factors which put them in danger. Firstly, they are more likely to get cancerous growths which are harder to notice. The growths may appear along the hair line, behind the ears and even under the nails. Furthermore, late-stage diagnoses are more prevalent in people of colour. When the condition is diagnosed at a later stage, the chances of survival are naturally much lower.

It appears only in the skin areas which get the most sun.

This is another huge myth. Cancerous tumours including moles can grow on all parts of the body. Often, they appear in areas which get the least sun, if any, such as the inner side of the thighs and the pubic area. Malignant growths can appear even on the soles. That is why every part of the skin must be carefully examined.

Tanned skin is better protected.

This is totally not true. Tanned skin is actually damaged skin. Your skin gets darker because it produces more melanin, a pigment which is intended to protect the cells from damage. Tanning can increase your risk of skin cancer. Furthermore, it speeds up ageing. It leads to fine lines, wrinkles and spots which are difficult to treat.

No one is perfectly safe from skin cancer. People of all ages and ethnicities should avoid outdoor activities between 10 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. If they go outside, they must wear sunscreen and protective clothing and accessories. The use of tanning beds should be avoided. Regular mole checks are important as well.

How to Recognise the Main Melanoma Symptoms

Tens of thousands of new cases of melanoma are diagnosed every year. This is the deadliest type of skin cancer. It affects people of all ages and ethnical backgrounds. At the same time, when it is caught at the early stages of its development, it is curable. The 10-year survival rate is 95% when the condition is diagnosed at its first stage. That is why it is important for every person to know the main symptoms and how to recognise them.

The ABCDE Method

Malignant skin growths which look like moles are the main melanoma symptoms. However, they differ from benign growths in several ways. These differences are defined by the ABCDE method which is used for recognising cancerous growths. A is for asymmetry. The malignant growths are asymmetric. When you draw an imaginary line through the centre of the growth, the two parts on the sides differ.

B is for border. The dangerous growths typically have uneven border while the benign ones are perfectly round. C is for colour. The cancerous moles typically consist of two or more different colours, which can range from pale skin colour to black. D is for diameter. The suspicious growths are larger than 6 millimetres in diameter. They are typically bigger than a pencil eraser. E is for evolution. The malignant growths are constantly evolving. They change their size and their colour.

If a skin growth meets the ABCDE criteria, you should have it checked immediately. This can save your life.

The Satellite Method

This is another effective method for recognising the major melanoma symptoms. If a new mole grows in the area surrounding a bigger one, it may be a satellite. It is certainly a red flag. It may be a sign that the growth is spreading. That is why it must be checked.

The Ugly Duckling Method

This is another fairly easy method for recognising suspicious skin growth which may be malignant. A mole is an ugly duckling when it differs considerably from the ones around it and from the moles on your body as a whole. It may be bigger, darker or lighter, raised or irregularly shaped. In any case, you should have it examined by a dermatologist.

Other Symptoms

You should be familiar with the more disturbing melanoma symptoms as well. Typically, the malignant growths do not hurt. However, they may crust, ooze or bleed. These are signs of trouble which require immediate medical attention.

Overall, you should keep a close eye on your moles so that you can recognise the melanoma symptoms early on. Regular dermatological exams are also recommended.