Skin cancer: Dr Chris outlines the signs of a melanoma
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There are various types of cancer, with melanoma being considered major. Melanoma describes the kind of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in your body. Although melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, Dr Kumkum Misra, Medical Director from Monteceuticals, spotlights the “hidden” spots you need to be checking for cancer.
With around 16,744 new skin cancer cases every year, it’s important to know the warning signs which will help you identify the condition.
When it comes to melanoma, the telling is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
While this can happen anywhere on your body, there are a few areas “you may never consider”.
From your soles to your eyes, here are the “hidden” spots of skin cancer, according to Dr Misra.
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The doctor said: “Hidden melanoma can develop in areas of your skin that aren’t exposed to the sun.
“It’s essential to monitor all parts of your skin for any changes or concerning symptoms, even areas you may never usually consider.”
She listed these “hidden” cancer spots:
- Between the toes and fingers
- The palms of your hands and soles of your feet
- On your genitals or surrounding areas
- On the scalp
- In the nail beds of your finger or toenails
- In the eye (known as ocular melanoma)
- In the mouth, digestive and urinary tracts (known as mucosal melanoma).
In terms of the changes to spot, the NHS recommends looking out for new moles or changes in the appearance of existing moles.
The health service explains that normal moles tend to be round or oval, with a smooth edge. When it comes to the size, they are usually no bigger than 6mm in diameter.
The skin cancer signs to be aware of include a mole that’s:
- Getting bigger
- Changing shape
- Changing colour
- Bleeding or becoming crusty
- Itchy or sore.
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If you spot any of these signs or changes, you should speak to your doctor.
Dr Misra said: “Make an appointment with your doctor immediately – not all changes in the skin are cancer, but it’s best to treat them all seriously in case they are.
“Early diagnosis is key with skin cancer, so don’t be afraid to ask for a medical opinion when you feel concerned.”
Melanoma isn’t the only type of skin cancer as other common conditions include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
“Basal cell carcinoma can develop as bumps or lesions on the skin but can vary wildly in appearance,” the doctor noted.
And squamous cell carcinoma tends to be nodular, crusted and ulcerated, resembling an open sore or wound that won’t heal.
However, melanoma is the most serious type as it can spread to other organs in your body.
Although the sun can be the trigger for skin cancer, there’s no need to deprive yourself of sunshine as you can reduce your chances of skin cancer by practising “sun safety”.
Dr Misra added: “This means using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50+, ideally with added UVA and UVB protection, protecting skin with long sleeves, large brimmed hats and sunglasses, and avoiding high levels of UV rays – that means ditching the tanning beds.”
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