Identifying skin cancers

It is important to be aware of the typical characteristics of skin cancer:

• An open sore, of any size, that bleeds, oozes or crusts and remains open for three or more weeks.

• A persistent, non-healing sore.

• A reddish patch or irritated area that does not go away and fails to responds to moisturisers or treatment creams.

• A smooth growth with a distinct rolled border and an indented centre.

• A shiny bump or nodule with a smooth surface that can be pink, red, white, back, brown or purple in colour.

• A white patch of skin that has a smooth, scarlike texture. The area of white stands out from the surrounding skin and can appear clear and taut.

There is a list of the A, B, C and D of identifying skin cancer:

• Asymmetry - one area of the suspected area is unlike the other.

• Border - there is an irregular, scalloped edge around the suspected lesion.

• Colour - colour varies from one area to another and may appear with shades of tan, brown, black, white, red or blue.

• Diameter — the area will generally be larger than 6 mm.

Basal cell carcinoma

This is a common form of skin cancer that originates in the basal cell layer of the epidermis. Often found on the face and other sun-exposed areas (especially in fair-skinned people). The most common type of basal cell carcinoma is a pearl-like bump, which may be pink or slightly flesh coloured, often with small capillaries running through it. Superficial basal cell carcinomas appear red, flat and scaly and may be misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as eczema.

Basal cell carcinomas rarely spread to other tissues or organs, and although not life threatening they can produce unpleasant scarring if not detected early.

Malignant melanoma

A malignant melanoma is a deeply pigmented mole which is life threatening if it is not recognised and treated promptly. Its main characteristic is a blue-black module which increases in size, shape and colour, and is most commonly found on the head, neck and trunk. Over-exposure to strong sunlight is a major cause and its incidence is increased in young people with fair skins.





Any client who presents with an abnormal growth, undiagnosed lump or bump on the skin should be referred to a medical practitioner.

Malignant melanoma

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