London: New statistics show that skin cancer is now the fastest growing cancer in the UK, and as early detection is crucial in its treatment, the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of mole checking through its ABCD-Easy guide to mole checks.
Malignant melanoma kills around two thousand people a year, and the Association is keen to promote the use of its easy to use mole check guidelines. TV favourite Anne Robinson is supporting the campaign and turning her no-nonsense approach to the nation’s skin.
She said: “I doubt I would be here today if a dermatologist hadn’t spotted that the mole in the middle of my back looked dangerous. It wasn’t visible to me. It took two operations to clear my melanoma; the result of years of sunbathing when I was young without bothering too much about protection -or realizing the risk to someone as fair skinned as I am. I’m lucky to be alive.”
Anne’s case highlights the importance of checking you skin for signs of cancer, and the Association’s ABCD-Easy guide to mole checks focuses on the changes that may indicate a “melanoma” – the deadliest form of skin cancer:
Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape
Border – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
Colour – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen
Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size or shape to your doctor
Expert – if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the National Health Service.
Nina Goa d of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “Early detection of skin cancer can make all the difference to successful treatment and by promoting how easy skin checking can be, literally as easy as ABC, we want to encourage more people to make it part of their health routine.”
Dermatologists are the experts in diagnosing and treating skin cancer, and BAD recommends reporting any unusual changes in your skin (not only those in its ABCDE guide) to your doctor so that a referral can be made.
The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by excess exposure to the sun. In fact, more than four out of five cases of skin cancer are thought to be preventable. Simply being more aware of the general health of your skin and checking moles regularly at least four times a year could make all the difference.