The simple method you can use to detect melanoma

If your arms are anything like mine, they’re covered in age spots, moles, pigmentations, freckles, dots and I don’t even know

If your arms are anything like mine, they’re covered in age spots, moles, pigmentations, freckles, dots and I don’t even know what else!

But one thing I’m always looking out for is the tell-tale signs of melanoma.

Having a mother who caught hers in time thanks to a masseuse, I am particularly fastidious in checking my moles. My husband has the job of checking the back half, but how was I to know he was looking for the right things?

Thankfully the Cancer Council has this fantastic infographic that breaks down the tell-tale signs of melanoma and helps us know what to look out for.

Melanoma accounts for one in ten cancer diagnoses and is more common in men that women.

So please, familiarise yourself with this chart, check yourself, check your loved ones and remember to cover up this summer.

melanoma detection guide

[Editor’s note: We received this comment on this story and are adding it here so that others know what to look out for:]

May I strongly suggest that this message be updated with the addition of E for evolving. This means any blemish that is changing in shape colour etc. Can you imagine a tiny pink, shiny regular pimple like blemish that is growing steadily? My daughter had one in her scalp. Her GP said we’ll keep an eye on that but was not concerned enough to send her to a specialist. Some weeks later it was becoming annoying so she went to a skin specialist. Biopsy revealed that it was Nodular Melanoma, very aggressive and deadly. Yes. After several operations to remove the primary and several secondaries, my beloved daughter died a year later at age 50. Earlier detection would have given her greater life expectancy. Her oncologist said that even GPs are poorly educated on these evolving melanomas.

Have you or a loved one experienced melanoma? Did you know what to look out for? Share your stories with us.

  1. Jan  

    My husbands melenoma on top of his arm was black and very small – the size of a ballpoint pen dot Fortunately I noticed it and he had surgery within a week.

  2. Anne McGrath  

    Sometimes what you are worried about turns out to be ok yet another spot may turn out to be nasty. My doc was alerted to mine after I had used effudix cream on my face. It was a brownish spot which appeared bigger after I had used the cream for the second time in a couple of years. Luckily stage 1 and ok. This is a great guide and I will save. Think the only answer if you are prone to BCC’s or SCC’s as I am is regular checks. Think it is a great idea to have pics taken of your skin so the spots can be compared.

  3. Yes my husband had a mole near his navel which I could see was growing darker but his GP kept reassuring him that it was okay. It was eventually removed but too late. A lump appeared in his groin and he was found to have aggressive melanoma. He died a year later.

  4. Ian  

    A year ago friend pointed out a small spot under my left side jaw, a week later I had a 6 centre meter operation right up to under my eye, unfortunately after two more operations I have been cleared but advised to continually check to make sure no change. Be very aware I’m a Kiwi and like Australians we are in a very very high UV zone. As a child on a farm driving tractors etc without protection was told to harden up when sun burnt , we are now paying for our ignorance.

    • Cheryl Martin  

      My son had a small spot on his arm which he thought was a splinter . Turned out to be a level 4 melanom, he ended up with 42 stitches in his arm, twelve months later he noticed a lump under his arm, had lymph nodes removed, then 12 months later on having his scans they found a small tumor on his brain, he had that removed and for the last 3 years he has been tumor free. Still having full body & head scans every six months but thank god he is doing well. You can never bee too careful and have any suspicious moles checked.

  5. sandra pope  

    My husband came along with my friend and I ( under duress) for a skinf check. He thinks he is invincible and gets around with no hat and no shirt all the time. the specialist removed a warty skin tag that he has had all his life for him as it was catching on his new fashioned tighter T shirts. As a matter of course it was sent to pathology..result..stage two melanoma! The specialist was sorry he hadn’t taken photographic proof that it didn’t look sinister and the melanoma was hiding under the skin tag. All gone now thank heavens!

  6. I developed a pink itchy spot in the crook of my left arm which my G.P. removed…& it was found to be a melanoma…21 years ago…after radical surgery I had large slice removed by my specialist & awoke to several tubes coming from armpit, but no sign of damage to my lymph nodes….it just looked like a pink blister..not bigger than a tip of a pencil.

  7. Diane McGowan  

    I had a melanoma on my back. I was lucky that my sister and I were aqua jogging a few times a week at the time. As we were jogging she said I had a mark on my back, she thought my bra had rubbed. She checked it later and it was just above my bra line.
    It looked like a birthmark apparently which i had never had before. Nothing like the above.
    No matter how I tried I couldn’t see it. I went to my GP who said that she wasn’t sure whether it was nasty or not so sent me to a specialist. He got me a appointment pretty quickly to have it removed. It was removed with quite a bit of excess around it. It came back as a melanoma and that I needed a 2cm margin removed all the way around top bottom each side AND under!
    I consider myself very lucky and thankful for a sister who cares and took note!!

  8. Linde  

    My mother had a small pimple on her arm. It did not grow, was pink and shiny but she’d had it for 6 months and it was itchy. I told her to go to doctor to check but she felt silly to go for a little pimple. In the end she went for another reason and said, Oh by the way my daughter said etc, etc etc. Biopsy was positive for melanoma. She had large extensive plastic surgery to arm and was told they hoped it had been caught in time. Obviously they did. 30 years later she is with us. SO the big message, never feel silly just get it checked.

  9. Lyn Gallichan  

    Always thought they were brown. But had a relative who had one that was not coloured. Luckily picked up early by doctor.

  10. Helen  

    Having just had a melanoma removed I can’t encourage people strongly enough to skip the gp and non specialist mole places and SEE A DERMATOLOGIST. All they do is look at skin all day. Mine looked like a agespot but he just wanted to biopsy it just in case. Bingo it was a melanoma and took 2 goes to get it but now will go 6 monthly for ever. It didnt really look like any of your pictures. Thanks for helping to raise awareness.

    • Bev  

      I have also had a melanoma removed from my face that for 6 years my GP thought was an age spot, every 6 months I asked for it to be checked, she would ask if it had grown, but did not do anything about it until another mark appeared next to it. I then waited 7 months so see a dermatologist, who biopsiied it when the results came back, he organised an appointment with the Melanoma Unit, a week later after a bone scan and a radioactive test to track where the melanoma drained to, it was removed along with the lymph node. After the results came back, my surgeon had to take a larger margin as the pathologist felt the margin wasn’t large enough the first time. I was fortunate, I have a check every year now, and 7 years down the track, I am very aware of being sun safe.

  11. Wendy Johnston  

    My Mum died aged 49 of melanoma, so I have been very diligent about checking my skin. Found a new dark spot at the back of knee. Went to GP to arrange referral to melanoma surgeon, GP said she was 95% sure it was nothing. I went to melanoma surgeon who said come back in 6 months, he was 98% sure it was nothing. I said I’ve already made a second appointment for two days time to have it cut out. Short story, he cut it out and a week later results showed it was melanoma and had to go back to have more cut away, as they needed to have a larger clearance from the incision.
    I told my dermatologist and she said if I’d waited for the six months, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the appointment. Moral: Don’t much around, act quickly if you think that something is not right. 10 years on and I have a dermatologist check me all over every 12 months, and have had no further problems.

  12. Pingback: The simple method you can use to detect melanoma – Starts at 60 | Miter UP

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