New Zealand has some of the highest rates of Malignant Melanoma in the world, and the Bay of Plenty region has the highest rates in the country. Most people know of someone who has been diagnosed with Melanoma, and sadly, many know of someone who has died because of it.
Whilst Malignant Melanoma has the potential to be deadly, it is curable if identified and treated at an early stage. Timely identification and treatment of melanoma is often dependent on an examination by a Doctor specially trained in recognising the often subtle early signs, and by self-examination of the skin. Ideally, this self-examination should be done 3-4 times a year, ideally with a partner to help look at areas of skin that are difficult for you to see. Most melanomas are not painful and so without awareness that looking for them is important, they can grow insidiously and be detected later when there is more potential for complications.
Take the time to carefully check your skin from top to toe (not forgetting your scalp, in between your fingers and toes, and your palms and soles). Be suspicious of any new or changing mole, lump, sore, scaly patch or ulcer and get it checked out early.
In addition to early detection, risk reduction by sun protection is pivotal if we are to see rates of skin cancer fall in the years to come. When it comes to skin cancer (and especially malignant melanoma), the earlier the better.
Read more about Melanoma and the treatment options
If you would like an expert skin examination, make an appointment to see a Specialist Dermatologist today. Contact the Skin Centre on 0800 Skin Centre (754 623).
By Dr Neil Mortimer
BSc Hons MBChB FRCP (UK) FRACP FACMS