Above: Early stages of skin cancer
The early signs of skin cancer – what to look for?
We also recommend checking your skin yourself (or asking someone to check it for you) at least every two to three months. Knowing the ABCDE and EFG guidelines below can help you identify the early signs of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry: If you draw an invisible line down the centre of a non-cancerous growth, the two sides will be almost identical in most cases; with skin cancer, the two sides will look different.
- Borders: Non-cancerous growths tend to have smooth edges or borders while skin cancers usually have irregular borders.
- Colour: While most moles are one consistent colour, skin cancers tend to have more than one colour, like red, brown, black, pink, or even blue.
- Diameter: Most melanomas have a diameter larger than a pencil (about 6mm); however, some melanomas can be quite small, especially in their early stages.
- Evolution: Any spot or growth that changes in size, shape, colour, or any other characteristic is more likely to be a melanoma.
Recently, Cancer Council announced an update to the diagnosis guidelines to include elevation, firmness, and growth (EFG):
- Elevated: The mole is raised above the skin.
- Firm: The spot is solid to the touch, firmer than the surrounding skin and doesn’t flatten if pressed.
- Growing: The mole is gradually getting larger.
While the ABCDE and EFG guidelines are a good starting point for evaluating a suspicious spot, the differences between a sunspot and early skin cancer can extremely difficult to detect without proper medical training. Even your doctor might have trouble detecting early skin cancer at a glance.
Only a specialist skin-mapping service such as MoleMap
has the expertise and technology to detect the subtle differences between benign sunspots and cancerous growths such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma - which is why we recommend choosing a regular, specialist skin cancer check.