Detecting skin cancer

Mastering the art of detection

Published 16 May 2019

Great art helps us see the world differently. It makes us think and it can captivate our senses, evoking powerful emotions that last a lifetime.

But that can only happen if we take the time to look at it properly. To see the big picture but also appreciate the finer details we might miss on first glance.

That’s what the art of detection is all about. We've enlisted the help of some of history’s most iconic paintings to inspire everyone to look closer at the little things. This is not just to encourage us to appreciate the finer details in beautiful artwork. It is also to also encourage us to spot the signs and traces of melanoma, for yourself and your loved ones.

Take a tour of our virtual gallery and learn to master the art of detection. It could help you save lives.

What to check for

Ideally you should examine your moles and any other pigmented patches on your skin about once a month.1 However, according to a recent Roche survey2 just 17% of people actually do so. In addition, only 20% of people surveyed protect their skin all year round and less than one in 10 (9% of those surveyed) know all the ABCDEs of melanoma. Learning the ABCDEs of melanoma and knowing your body’s “mole map” makes it easier for you to spot changes in the appearance or feeling of moles. Print out our Mole Checking Guide checklist to help remind you and your loved ones of the ABCDEs of melanoma.

Where and how to check

Melanoma can develop anywhere, so it is vital to check all over your body. The most common areas for men are the chest and back. For women, the area leg is more common. For people with dark skin it often starts on the hands, feet and under the nails.3 Always check your skin in a well-lit room using a full-length mirror plus a hand-held mirror for areas that are hard to see.1 Examine everywhere, including your palms and soles, scalp, ears, nails and back. Ask a friend or family member to help if needed.

What should you do if you spot something unusual?

If you do spot something unusual, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. It may be a false alarm but if melanoma is recognised and treated early, it is almost always curable.4,5 If you are given a diagnosis, seek information from reputable health organisations (your doctor can advise on these) about your particular form of melanoma, along with the treatment and management options available to you.

Mastering the art of detection could help you save lives.

References

1) American Cancer Society. Melanoma Skin Cancer Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging. (2016). Available at: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/CRC/PDF/Public/8825.00.pdf (Accessed April 2019)
2) Roche conducted a survey in April 2019 with respondents from the following countries: USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
3) International Agency for Research on Cancer. Publications. Pathology and Genetics of Skin Tumours (2017). Available at: http://publications.iarc.fr/_publications/media/download/1501/81d443ffeb7911151b925bbeb79e155ac2e5fd02.pdf (Accessed April 2019)
4) Leong SP. Future perspectives on malignant melanoma. Surg Clin North Am. 2003;83:453-6
5) Creagan ET. Malignant melanoma: an emerging and preventable medical catastrophe. Mayo Clin Proc. 1997;72:570-4

Tags: Patients, Oncology