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Know Your ABCDEs to Spot the Signs of Skin Cancer

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Skin cancer is very common among Australian adults, but thankfully it is a cancer that is relatively easy to treat if you catch it early. Many skin cancers start with a mole that displays one of the following signs. To ensure that you do not miss the telltale early signs of skin cancer, remember ABCDE.


Harmless moles are usually somewhat symmetrical. They are roughly circular with no irregularities in their shape. One of the key signs of a cancerous mole is asymmetry. Moles that start to spread out in one direction, taking on an elongated shape, should be checked out by a dermatologist.


If you have a mole that you are worried about, look carefully at its outer edge. Healthy moles usually have a smooth border, whereas cancerous moles are more likely to have a border that curves in and out or looks speckly.


Healthy moles can have a relatively wide range of colours. Anything from light brown to black is normal and nothing to worry about. Other colours, such as red, purple, or even blue or green, can be a cause for concern. Look out for moles that are multi-coloured, which can be in the process of becoming cancerous.


Larger moles are more likely to become cancerous than smaller ones. Simply being larger than average does not necessarily mean that a mole is cancerous, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on the biggest moles on your body. Look out for moles that grow in size, which is often one of the first signs that a mole has become cancerous or precancerous.


The last item in the ABCDE list summarises all the others. When a mole becomes cancerous, it is very likely that it will display some kind of visible change. This change might take the form of a change of colour, shape or size. The mole might also become itchy or start to hurt. Any kind of change or "evolution" in the way a mole looks or feels is a clear sign that you should consult a dermatologist for a skin cancer check.

It is very important to become familiar with the moles you currently have so you can spot changes in their appearance and identify any new moles. If you struggle to remember where your moles are on your body, draw a diagram or make a list. You can then refer to this list to identify changes in your moles that need to be checked out. For more information, contact clinics like Darwin Dermatology.