- Cancer Prevention
- Sun protection
- Sun protection recommendations
- What is skin cancer?
- Finding skin cancer early
Finding skin cancer early
Early detection of skin cancer is vital
The sooner any type of skin cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be. Even basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) that have been neglected can require extensive surgery to remove and result in permanent scarring.
Get to know your own skin
It’s important to get to know your own skin. Most people have moles, birthmarks, freckles and blemishes. If you get to know these well, it’s more likely you’ll recognise what’s normal for you and what may have changed since you last looked.
How to check your own skin
Everyone should check with own skin. With a bit of practice, you should be able to check your whole body in about 15 minutes.
You will need to undress completely and the room will need to be well lit.
If you have a partner or someone you feel comfortable with, ask them to help you check parts of your body you can’t see easily.
When checking your skin, look for:
- Any new spot, lump or unusual freckly, mole, sunspot or sore that wasn’t there before and/ or doesn’t heal.
- A spot that looks different from other spots around it.
- A spot that has changed colour, size or shape over a few weeks or months, has an irregular border, or becomes itchy or bleeds.
Where to look:
- Head, scalp, neck and ears – take an extra close look around your nose, lips and scalp.
- Torso – check the front, back and sides of your body.
- Arms, hands, fingers and nails – remember to look at the spaces between your fingers and the beds of your fingernails.
- Toes, toenails and on the soles of your feet – check between the toes, nail beds and soles of your feet.
If you see a spot on your skin that has changed in size, shape or colour, or that itches or bleeds, or that wasn’t there before, you should see your GP immediately.