Skin cancer: The ABCDE checklist can help you look for signs of melanoma

Brits are being urged to look out for the key symptoms of skin cancer, as one-in-three ignore the warning signs of the nation’s most common cancer.

According to research, 36 percent of UK adults never examine themselves for signs of skin cancer, while 43 percent would only check for cancer if a specific NHS screening program was offered to them, claims Miiskin – the skin tracking app that partners with the British Skin Foundation charity.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of Brits are concerned that tanning or sunburn in the past has damaged their skin, and many now regularly take ‘skin selfies’ to help spot signs of the disease developing.

One of five adults have taken photos of their moles to track for changes and one in 10 now do so at least once a month.

Around 300 million skin selfies are taken every year by Brits, but this is more popular for younger age groups – while 89 percent of those aged 55 and over never do it.

As skin cancer cases grow, recent figures have revealed more than 2,600 skin cancer mortalities a year and 140,000 annual incidences of skin cancer – 15,000 of these tumours are melanoma – one of the most dangerous forms.

Dr Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, said: “Skin cancer remains prevalent in the UK. It usually isn’t painful, so being aware of the visible warning signs and checking your skin is crucial, as most skin cancers can be cured if detected early.

“Look out for changes to the appearance of moles, such as the size, shape and colour, as well as new moles and marks – taking photos can help you notice changes over time.

“You should examine all of your body – including your nails, where melanoma can show as a dark line under the nail. If you notice something concerning, it’s important to get it checked by your GP or a skin specialist.”

Jon Friis, founder and CEO of skin tracking app Miiskin, said: “Skin self-examination awareness still isn’t as widespread in the UK, as it is in countries like Australia, but the message is sinking in.

“Recent consumer tech developments are making it easier to fully map your skin and regularly track changes to individual moles and marks – so you can seek medical advice if you spot something worrying.”

Sophie Dagg, a beauty therapist from the North East coast is urging others to be more aware of potentially life-threatening changes, following her own skin cancer diagnosis during the pandemic last year.

The 34-year-old from South Tyneside, said: “My mum caught sight of a weird looking mole under my shoulder blade – I’d not noticed it before and decided I should try and see my GP about it.

“I was referred to see a specialist at Durham hospital and the mole and surrounding tissue were removed. After further testing, they confirmed it was malignant melanoma. It was a shock – you don’t think it will happen to you, but it can.”

Sophie was advised to keep a close eye on her skin and told about the Miiskin app at the hospital. She said: “It’s important to be aware of changes to your skin and don’t leave it to chance.

“I would urge anyone with any concerns to seek advice from a medical professional, as I really thought mine would have been something and nothing.”

Sophie specialises in nail care and was taught about signs of a melanoma to look for in people’s nails during her beauty training – knowledge that recently helped a family member.

She said: “My cousin was concerned about a thick dark line that had appeared under one of her nails and asked me to take a look. I knew it could be a sign of melanoma, so encouraged her to get it checked.

“It turned out it was, and she had the nail removed so it could be treated. Thankfully she was able to catch it early.”

A quick guide to spotting melanoma
The ABCDE checklist can help you look for signs of melanoma:

A symmetrical – two halves do not match and are an irregular shape

B order – an uneven border, notched or ragged

C olour – colour could be uneven (such as brown/black/red shades) or changing

D iameter – lesions bigger than the size of a pencil eraser (6mm+) have a higher risk of being melanoma

E volving – one of the most important signs is a change to an existing mole or a new lesion evolving

Around 70 percent of melanoma cases in adults appear as a new mark or mole on the body, rather than being associated with an existing mole.

If you spot anything concerning, contact your GP for advice.