Tuesday 3 January 2017

Skin Check: Melanoma

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this post is not medical advice that should be relied upon. This is information of a general nature only. Please consult a medical professional!

So my sister suggested that I do a free skin cancer check, so I did!

It was an eye-opening experience. Thankfully, there's nothing wrong with me.

However my doctor (who probably doesn't want to be named) gave me the following additional tips which I thought I should share with everyone:

1. Avoid getting sunburnt 

I asked the doctor if there was a limit as to how many times a person could be sunburnt in their life.

He told me that for every time you get sunburnt in your life, this roughly equates to you getting one type of skin cancer down the track.

But not all skin cancers are the same.

2. How many types of skin cancers are there?

If I remember correctly, apparently there are three types of skin cancers:


Apparently doctors are not really concerned about BCC and SCC because more often than not, they do not kill and treatment prospects are much better than melanoma.

BCC and SCC apparently pop up in your 40's to 60's and, to an extent, are 'fated' ---

Fated how? Apparently, if you were exposed to too much sun as a child or teenager, you will likely get BCC or SCC later down the track.

3. Melanoma

Melanoma, however, is far more deadly. This is the number one priority for all doctors.

It is also more random in terms of what age you can get it.

Melanoma can kill, but if reported early, I was told you have a 95% chance of survival.

Ethnicity and family history will affect a person's chances of contracting melanoma.

I can't remember the stats, but a fair few young adults in Australia die from melanoma each year - it's something like the 4th or 5th main cause of death for young adults from memory.

4. What to look out for?

Check your moles.
Usually most moles are harmless, but you can use this acronym ABCDE to assist you.

Asymmetry: Is the mole not a circle or relatively round? Is it a different shape to the other moles?

Borders: Does your mole have fuzzy borders?

Colour: Does your mole have a weird colour or is it darker than other moles on your body?

Diameter/Size: Is your mole's diameter greater than 6mm? (Don't quote me on this length, but I think this is what the doctor said)

Evolution: Has your mole changed patterns over time?

If the answer is "Yes" to any of the above questions, or if you see anything new or different on your body, report it to your doctor ASAP.

5. Other common symptoms of melanoma

There are apparently two other common symptoms:

One is that the skin under your fingernails darkens.

The second is a dark, larger mole appears under your foot (possibly from sunbathing).

Report any of these ASAP.

A tricky area for doctors is pink patches/pigments, which apparently are hard to diagnose even by the best doctors.

Just go for a skin check

In any case, don't rely on what I say. Just have it checked with a doctor :)

Andre Lim

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