Recog­nis­ing Melanoma

Know­ing what to look for could save your life

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Health -

NEW ZEALAND HOLDS THE

un­en­vi­able ti­tle of hav­ing the world’s high­est rate of in­va­sive melanoma, with around 50 cases di­ag­nosed per 100,000 peo­ple in 2016. Back in 1999, the rate was 77 cases per 100,000 peo­ple. With in­creased aware­ness of how to iden­tify a melanoma early, ex­perts be­lieve this num­ber can be re­duced even fur­ther.

IT’S IM­POR­TANT TO RE­ALISE

that not all skin can­cers are melanoma. There are three main types: basal cell car­ci­noma, squa­mous cell car­ci­noma and melanoma, the most se­ri­ous. If left un­de­tected and un­treated, melanoma can lead to death. For peo­ple with early-stage melanoma, the out­come is ex­cel­lent. Ac­cord­ing to Melanoma New Zealand, be­ing able to recog­nise the first signs of change of an ex­ist­ing mole, or the ap­pear­ance of a new mole, is key.

IF YOU ARE CON­CERNED ABOUT A MOLE …

Be­ing aware of how your skin nor­mally looks will help in deciding to seek a med­i­cal opin­ion, should you no­tice a new mole, or a mole that changes ap­pear­ance.

WHEN CHECK­ING YOUR SKIN,

use the ABCDE sys­tem to help you re­mem­ber what to look for:

ASYM­ME­TRY The two halves of the mole don’t match.

BOR­DER IR­REG­U­LAR­ITY The edges of the mole ap­pear jagged, ir­reg­u­lar or blurred. COLOUR The colour isn’t uni­form.

DIFFERENT from other le­sions. Has the le­sion changed in com­par­i­son to the sur­round­ing moles, par­tic­u­larly in size? Melanomas are typ­i­cally big­ger than 6 mm in di­am­e­ter.

EVOLV­ING An ex­ist­ing mole has grown or a new mole has ap­peared.

You should also see your doc­tor if you spot a dark area un­der a nail that is get­ting big­ger and is not caused by an in­jury. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.melanoma.org.nz

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