Mole awareness: Keeping your skin safe this summer
It is estimated that many Australians will have more than 50 moles by the age of 151 and while the majority are harmless, some of these carry the risk of skin cancer.
As summer heats up, there is a simple and effective way to monitor your skin and that of your family’s to ensure you reduce the risk of melanoma or skin cancer.
Used by dermatologists around the world, the ABCDE guidelines2 are a useful way to monitor your skin and detect the early signs of melanoma. While it’s important to discuss your skin cancer risk and need for regular examinations with a medical practitioner, you should still get to know your own skin and moles, and seek expert advice if you notice any of the following:
ASYMMETRY: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
BORDER: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
COLOUR: The colour is not the same all over but may have differing shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white or blue.
DIAMETER: The area is larger than six millimetres or is growing larger.
EVOLVING: Changes in size, shape, colour, elevation or another trait (such as itching, bleeding or crusting).
While you can’t change your genetics, there are some simple measures you can take to prevent skin cancers, such as covering up when outdoors, frequently applying a broad- spectrum sunscreen and checking your skin regularly.
- Cancer Council Australia, ‘Check for signs of skin cancer’, www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer.html
- Melanoma Institute Australia, ‘How do I check myself for melanoma’, https://www.melanoma.org.au/preventing-melanoma/how-do-i-check-myself-for-melanoma/
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.