Identifying a Melanoma

Is that mole a cause for alarm?

Dermatologists suggest screening yourself all over once a month for any mole changes. Check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas and become familiar with it. It’s important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you so changes will be quickly noticed. If skin cancer is detected early enough then it can usually be successfully treated. However if left untreated, skin cancer can be fatal.

If you have a suspicious spot, follow the ABCDEFG’s of skin cancer detection to check for any potential risks or red flags.

  • A = Asymmetry
  • B = Border
  • C = Colour
  • D = Diameter
  • E = Elevation
  • F = Firm
  • G = Growth

A: When you draw a line down the middle of your mole, one side should mirror the other. If it doesn’t, it’s ASYMMETRICAL.

B: Questionable moles are the ones whose BORDERS are more jagged, it’s more reassuring if its edges are straight.

C: Moles should be one COLOUR; a variety of shades is a warning sign. One exception; a solid shade of black is reason to see a dermatologist. Nodular melanomas are often black.

D: Melanomas are usually larger in DIAMETER than a pencil eraser (6 millimetres).

E: Moles that EVOLVE – change in size, shape, colour, elevation or start to bleed or itch – are suspect and should be seen by a dermatologist.

F: This is one case where a softer body part is better. Moles that are FIRM to the touch are not typically normal.

G: You don't want your mole to GROW, especially not rapidly in a short amount of time, such as a few months or weeks.

Dermatologists suggest screening yourself all over once a month for any mole changes.

Other smart skin strategies: Limit your sun exposure, particularly between the hours of 10am and 3pm. Don’t even think about hitting up a tanning bed. Also use a daily sunscreen that has ultraviolet A and B protection. Keep in mind that “it’s the total accumulated sun damage and exposure that’s a problem,” says Dr. Bank, “not just that one trip to St. Martin.”


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the invisible killer that you can’t see or feel. UV radiation can be high even on cool and overcast days. This means you can’t rely on clear skies or high temperatures to determine when you need to protect yourself from the sun.

The SunSmart UV Index is reported daily by the Bureau of Meteorology:, or you can download the Cancer Council’s SunSmart app at The alert identifies times during the day when the UV level is 3 or above and sun protection is needed.


Use clothing to cover as much skin as possible.


Make sure it’s broad spectrum and water-resistant.


Wear a broad brimmed hat that covers your face, head, neck and ears.


Make use of trees or built shade or bring your own.


Close-fitting wrap-around styles offer the best protection.

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