How to spot skin cancer: The ABCDE of skin cancer prevention

A woman spots melanoma after referring to the ABCDE of skin cancer prevention.

It should come as no surprise that Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. Because each year, more than 13,500 of us are diagnosed with melanoma, and another 400,00 are treated with one or more non-melanoma cases. 

In fact, Australian summers are one of the most pristine in the world, and with all the amazing technologies available for early detection of skin cancer, it is still crucial to do a self-check at home regularly. 

All it takes is a mirror, bright light, and knowing what ABCDE of skin cancer prevention is. Let’s find out. 

First up, what to look for when doing a skin cancer check at home?

Skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, but only when it is small and hasn’t spread enough that makes it easier to treat and manage. 

When looking for areas of concern, the focus must be to look for spots and their changes over time. 

Since skin cancer happens in many forms, it is also important to know that spots would appear different with different types of skin cancer. 

For instance, basal cell carcinoma, which appears in the top layer of skin looks more like a pink and white patch that itches, oozes or bleeds. On the flip side, squamous cell carcinoma appears like a scaly red patch and can be  in areas that are not exposed to the sun, such as the genitals. 

The four primary things to keep an eye on are; 

  • Spot/spots that continue to itch, bleed and hurt over time 
  • Mole/moles that change in shape, size, thickness and colour
  • Growth/growths that increase in size, and colour 
  • An open sore that doesn’t heal within 3/4 weeks 

The ABCDE of skin cancer prevention 

A skin cancer GP spotting melanoma during a skin cancer check in GPs in Curzon

A is for Asymmetry 

When a part of a spot doesn’t match with the other part. Most melanomas are asymmetrical so when you draw a line in between the spot, the parts are not identical. 

B is for Border

When the edge of a spot or lesion appears irregular with notched edges. Sometimes melanomas appear blurred at their edges too.

C is for Colour 

Some lesions may appear multicoloured. This is because when the melanin in your skin appears different, it means it is somewhere where it shouldn’t be. Melanomas are not the same all over. A single lesion can have shades of black and brown with patches of pink or red sometimes. 

D is for Diameter

When a spot is between 6 mm to 7 mm across, it may be a sign of melanoma. But keep an eye for any sized spots. 

E is for Evolving 

Any changes in colour, shape, size,  appearance or elevation of a lesion can be concerning. 

Skin cancer prevention at our skin clinic Toowoomba 

A skin cancer GP using a dermascope to spot melanoma in skin cancer clinic in Toowoomba

Our doctors offer full skin cancer checks, dermoscopy examinations, biopsies, and skin cancer excisions or topical treatments as part of our services provided at GPs on Curzon.

We will organise your full skin check, and in case our doctors find any spot of concern, we will treat you on the same day or arrange a biopsy or excision on a later date. 

Visit our Skin Clinic Toowoomba for more information.