Dr Julia's top tips on how to check your skin for signs of cancer

Hannah Wilson

Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. At least 100,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the UK. Early detection is key to better outcomes, so knowing what to look out for is vital.

Dr Julia recommends that you check your skin opportunistically and frequently, in the shower or when getting dried, for example. The more you get to know your skin, the more likely you are to recognise a change. This could mean a completely new skin lesion, or a change within one of your longstanding moles or freckles.

Once a month, check your skin in a more systematic way, in a well-lit room and with a mirror. There is a really simple method, called the "ABCDE" rule. Below, I discuss how to use this method yourself at home. If you have any concerns about an unusual lump or bump on your skin, please call your GP and have it checked by a Doctor. The sooner you get checked out, the better! 

Looking to speak to a Skin Expert about your facial skincare? You can book a free video skincare consultation by tapping the button below. Alternatively, read on to find out more about the "ABCDE" rule.


ABCDE - check your skin for signs

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Asymmetry

Skin cancer or melanoma is often asymmetrical, which means that the shape isn't uniform. Check to see if one part of a mole or birthmark doesn't match the other. Non-cancerous moles are typically uniform and symmetrical in shape, so this can be a good indicator to watch out for.

Border

Melanoma often has borders that aren't well defined or have an unusual shape, whereas non-cancerous moles usually have smooth borders. If the edges of your mole or birthmark are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred, it is definitely worth having it checked out.

Colour

If you have a melanoma lesion, you may notice more than one colour or shade. The colour is not the same all over, and may include shades of brown, black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white or blue.

Diameter

If the spot or area is more than 1/4 of an inch across (about the same size as a pencil eraser), it is likely that the area could be skin cancer. However, melanomas can sometimes be smaller so it is worth checking against the other symptoms aforementioned.

Evolving

Melanoma will often change characteristics, such as size, shape or colour. If your mole ever changes size, shape or colour then it is very important you get it checked out.

This is a good start, but not all skin cancers follow the rules. You should point out anything unusual to your GP, including; itching, bleeding, swelling, tenderness and pain in the skin or around an existing mole.

How to prevent melanoma and skin cancer

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Sun protection plays a vital role in reducing your risk of skin cancer. However, not all sunscreens are created equal. Here at Face Dr, we offer the best and most protective facial sunscreens on the market. Take a look on our website for more information.

If you need to discuss skin protection, please get in touch with your Skin Expert or email us at hello@myfacedr.com