Skin cancer – 5 warning signs
By Dr Jan Kleynhans
All skin cancers start as small superficial lesions that become progressively larger and potentially more dangerous as they invade the skin and become more complex to treat. How soon a skin cancer is removed often determines the outcome and prognosis.
Here are 5 signs that your skin lesion or mole needs to be looked at by your doctor:
1. RAPID CHANGE IN AN EXISTING DARK MOLE
Gradual changes in dark moles – taking place over a period of many years – can be regarded as normal maturation of a mole. However, changes in colour, shape and size of dark moles – within any given year – are suspicious and needs to be investigated.
2. A NEW DARK MOLE APPEARS IN ADULTHOOD
During childhood and teenage years dark moles appear naturally, but once you have reached your latter twenties and thirties, new dark moles need to be checked by your doctor. Non-cancerous dark lesions may appear in adulthood and your doctor will know the difference.
3. REPEATED BLEEDING OF A MOLE OR SKIN LESION
Injury to any raised mole will cause it to bleed, but if a skin lesion bleeds repeatedly with minor injury it might be changing to cancer.
4. SKIN LESIONS THAT ULCERATE OR OPEN UP WITH CRUST FORMATION
A skin cancer often ulcerates and forms crusts, then heals and the process repeats itself. “Pimples” that do not heal in 3 months should be checked.
5. A NODULE OR LUMP APPEARING IN A CRUSTY SURFACE LESION
Sunspots appear as crusts on the surface of the skin and are not cancerous. When sunspots change to cancer, they often thicken and become lumpy as they invade the skin.
Ask a friend or family member to check your back and areas you cannot see for suspicious-looking growths regularly. Use sun protective measures daily – irrespective of the weather or season.