Skin cancer symptoms: the 5 signs you should never ignore

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Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, and has risen faster than any other form of cancer. When it comes to skin cancer, spotting the early warning signs could save your life. Here are the five symptoms you should watch out for.

Changes to moles and freckles is a well-known symptom of melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs.

It’s not only changes to your existing moles and freckles you need to watch out for – melanoma can also grow on a patch of skin.

If you notice any changes to your moles, or any new ones that seem to grow rapidly, you should get it checked by your doctor. An early cancer diagnosis could save your life.

You should check your skin regularly, and use a mirror for any areas you can’t see properly.

But what exactly are the changes you are looking out for? Here’s an easy-to-remember list to check the early warning signs.

There are five things doctors will be checking for, using a tool called the ABCDE list. The full list of signs is:

A: Asymmetrical
B: Border
C: Colour
D: Diameter
E: Evolving

Let’s explain what each of those means.

A – Asymmetrical

Melanomas often have an uneven shape, especially compared to normal moles which are usually even.

B – Border

Melanomas can have irregular edges, making them look blurred or jagged.

C – Colour

Melanomas can be an uneven colour, appearing in different shades of black, brown and even pink.

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D – Diameter

Diameter means the width of a mole. Normal moles are smaller than melanomas. Melanomas are often more than six millimetres wide.

E – Evolving

Normal moles usually stay the same, whereas melanomas can change often. Melanomas can change shape, size or colour.

Another early warning sign is a mole that itches, bleeds or becomes crusty.

Where should I be checking for melanoma?

Melanomas can appear anywhere on your body, which is why it’s so important to keep checking, and using a mirror.

Men are most likely to find melanoma on their back, whereas for women it is most likely to appear on their legs.

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