Earlier this month I completed my Melanoma And Skin Cancer Early Detection (MASCED) certificate. This accreditation program was designed by Skcin, an awareness and prevention charity. This post relates what the course covered and why I chose to complete it. I will also share some of the information I learned that you can use at home.
Over the past few years as a soft tissue therapist I have worked with a number of clients who have had suspicious moles removed. Early detection of suspicious moles can improve chances of a successful treatment. Early detection reduces the need for surgery and can even save lives.
However, skin cancer is rarely painful and is more often detected by sight rather than pain. Many of us know to look for moles that grow, but there are many other signs that I’ve since learned about. As a soft tissue therapist I get to see lots of people’s skin every day. Often I see areas that are difficult to see for yourself (like the soles of your feet or your back). This puts me in the perfect position to bring my client’s awareness to anything that should be checked out. Thanks to MASCED I feel more confident in talking to my clients about sun safety, skin cancer risk factors, and when to investigate a mole further.
What Did I Learn About Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK. Of all types of cancer, melanoma is the most prevalent amongst younger patients (aged 15-34). 86% of melanoma cases are preventable. Some risk factors for skin cancer include having fairer skin types, sun bed use, a history of sunburn, outdoor work or hobbies, mature skin, a family history of skin cancer or melanoma, and having 100+ moles on your body.
What To Look For
Every body will have some marks and moles on their skin. In the majority of cases these will be benign. However, there are some factors which indicate that further investigation is necessary.
The ABCDE rule can be used to screen for melanoma
- Asymmetry – when one half of the mole is different from the other half
- Border – when the border is blurry, irregular, or undefined
- Colour – when the colour changes over time or varies within the mole. In particular, red, blue, and black colourations should be checked out.
- Diameter – when the mole is 6mm or more. (smaller moles can still be harmful so don’t rely on this one!)
- Evolving – when a mole changes or grows.
- The ugly duckling sign – a mark or mole that looks ugly and does not match the other marks on your skin.
- A mark or mole that behaves differently from the other marks on your skin
- A dark band on the finger or toe nails
- moles that itch, bleed, or become crusty or inflamed
If In Doubt, Get Checked Out!
Remember it is possible to have suspicious moles which turn out to be benign, or normal looking moles which turn out to be not so. The information in this post is to be used as a guideline for what to look out for. The MASCED accreditation does not enable me to diagnose or advise whether a mole is harmful or not. But following my MASCED certification I have reached out to Dr Johnathan Bowling (consultant dermatologist) who offers mole screening clinics and diagnoses. If you notice something suspicious or if I spot something in clinic, I can help you get on track for a diagnosis. If in doubt, get checked out!
rise in skin cancer rates in the UK over the last decade