Despite many advances in the field of Melanoma treatment there is no doubt that early diagnosis and surgical excision offer the best chances of cure for this potentially deadly disease. This fact is well known but what is not so well known is the varying ways in which Melanoma can present.

Working solely in the field of skin cancer diagnosis and treatment means that I see a lot of patients with concerns about a specific lesion. Often this lesion is harmless and it is another area that gives me cause for concern. We are all trying to pick up Melanoma early but this means that the diagnostic features can therefore be very subtle even for the skin cancer doctor. At the Skin Centre we have diagnosed Melanoma in lesions as small as 1.5mm thanks to advanced Dermoscopic Imaging Technology that looks for subtle changes.

So what do people perceive a Melanoma to look like? When I have put this question to the general public, by far the most common response is a dark brown or black irregular shaped raised mole. This may certainly be the case and a mole like this should be brought to the attention of a doctor urgently, but there is a lot more to the picture than this. Melanomas may also be pink red or even white, scaly or fleshy, raised or flat.

So what should people be looking for? There is no doubt that the ABCD rule helps. That is Asymmetry, irregular Boarder, multi-Coloured or Colour different to all other moles and large Diameter. But probably more important than all is to add the "E". This stands for Evolution. A Melanoma is a tumour with cells growing out of control. This means that it will be changing over time. If you add to this the fact that at least 70% of Melanoma presents as a brand new lesion then this gives people something else to be aware of. A New Growing Lesion – regardless of what it looks like.

Read more about Melanoma here

By Dr James Spreadborough MBBS Dip Dermatology Cert Dermoscopy

Contact the Skin Centre on 0800 SkinCentre (754 623).