Skin Cancer Awareness Expert Advice

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Here is some expert advice from Mr Alrawi, Consultant plastic & reconstructive surgeon and skin cancer specialist.

Know your skin because you’re in charge, remember prevention is always better than cure and early diagnosis is the best cure.

When it comes to your health, remember you're in charge. However, sometimes it’s useful to have someone like a partner or family member to check certain area on your body that’s difficult for you to check like your back, head and the back of your limbs.

If you notice something unusual, tell your doctor. In most cases it won’t be cancer – but if it is, finding it early can make a real difference.  There's no need to do regular skin checks, just get to know what your skin normally looks and feels like. It's not just about moles - see your doctor if you notice any change in a patch of skin or a nail, whether it's a mark or mole you've had for a while, or something new that appears.

Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these:

• New growth or sore that won’t heal

• Spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts

• Mole or growth that bleeds, oozes, crusts or scabs

• Any other changes that aren't normal for you

The ABCDE rule is a handy way to remember mole changes to look out for. Your doctor needs to know if you’ve noticed even one of them.

ASYMMETRY = A The two halves don’t match

BORDER = B Might be irregular, blurred or jagged

COLOUR = C May be uneven with different colours

DIAMETER = D Might be the width of a pencil (6mm)

EVOLVING = E Anything that changes over time

What else affects your risk?

• Age: The risk of melanoma increases as you get older.

• Skin type: If you have fair skin, lots of moles or freckles or skin that burns easily you’re at higher risk. People with darker skin tones can get melanoma too - it might affect different places like the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

• Family history: People with a family member who has been affected by melanoma are at higher risk.

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