How to check for skin cancer—5 simple steps you can take at home to spot the signs

Skin cancer fears? Here's what you need to look out for...

Skin cancer? Close-up Of Young Woman Showing Skin On Shoulder Using Magnifying Glass At Home
(Image credit: Andriy Popov / Alamy Stock Photo)

Skin cancer worries? As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, many of us are too frightened to get underlying health issues or worries checked out and mobile skin cancer apps (opens in new tab) can be a little complicated. 

If you're not familiar with cancerous moles signs (opens in new tab), skin cancer can be quite hard to detect as it's frequently not itchy nor painful. Melanomas are moles which have grown or change colour but skin cancer can also show itself through other indications including slowly growing pimples or bumps that keep growing; any new onset of a growth, pimple or a scaly patch. 

Earlier this year Janet Street Porter revealed her skin cancer scare on Loose Women (opens in new tab).

And while it takes time for routine appointments to be carried out, Dr Hiba Injibar, founder of Harley Street's Dermasurge (opens in new tab) has given her tips on how you can make the most of doing your own skin checks at home and what to look out for.

 

Melanoma

(Image credit: Mantelpiece PR)

How can you give yourself an at-home check-up? 

Dr Injibar said, "At home, we advise people to keep an eye on their moles using a full-length mirror, checking every part of their body (including their backs and under their arms) using the ABCDE technique." 

  • A = Asymmetrical - was it symmetrical and did it become asymmetrical?
  • B = Border - did it have a regular border which has become much more irregular and jagged?
  • C = Colour - has it changed colour? Is it darker or has it become pinkish?
  • D = Diameter - Is it growing? Has it become larger than 6mm? (the size of a pencil eraser)
  • E = Evolving - is it's general appearance different to how it was before?

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When should you go to a GP/Dermatologist? 

Anything that causes you concern following checking over your body using the above mnemonic should prompt you to contact your dermatologist or your GP, who will refer you to a dermatologist. When we see an area of concern, we use a dermatoscope which is a small, handheld microscope for the skin which magnifies the lesion highlighting the structure of the cells and how they're arrange. If there is something suspicious, it will tell us if we need to take a biopsy. 

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Who is the most susceptible to skin cancer?  

People susceptible to skin cancer include people with fair skin, blue eyes, blonde hair and freckles. Similarly, people with a family history of skin cancer, people with genetic diseases such as albinism and those on immunosuppressive medication need to be particularly vigilant as the medication makes them more photosensitive. Finally, people who work for long periods outdoors in the sun, people who use tanning beds and people who don't use appropriate SPF also need to keep an eye on any changes in their skin. 

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 15 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She has covered all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand.