According to Santé Publique France, approximately 80,000 skin cancers are diagnosed each year in France.

 

There are various skin cancers, of which 2 main ones are carcinomas and melanomas. The most common skin cancer is carcinoma, which accounts for 90% of skin cancers diagnosed in France. Less frequent is melanoma. Its ability to spread to other organs is much more rapid. Compared to other cancers, skin cancers can be benign if detected and treated early enough. For these reasons, we will provide you with tips on how to spot lesions that may look suspicious early.

The skin is the only organ that can be seen with the naked eye, so it is easier to detect an abnormality. We encourage you to perform a self-examination of your entire skin more often (2-3 times a year). You can observe your body alone with the help of a mirror or with a partner. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with your dermatologist or GP who will take the time to examine you.

 

According to the French National Authority for Health, a self-examination is carried out in 4 stages:

Step 1

You should start by looking for irregular spots on your hands and feet. Pay attention to your palms, nails, fingers, spaces between the fingers, the front of your arms and forearms, your thighs and legs (inner and outer sides)

Step 2

Next, you look at your skin again from top to bottom, facing a mirror. Turn your body to the left side and then to the right side by raising your arms. Check your underarms and the visually accessible areas of your back.

Step 3

For areas that are not accessible, you can use another mirror in your hand. Examine your neck, back, scalp and don't forget the genital area.

The ABCDE of melanoma

It is true that usually brown spots, moles (nevi) or growths on your skin are harmless, but this is not always the case. We are therefore going to introduce you to a method that will enable us to recognise the signs of melanoma.

A. Asymmetry

Melanomas are recognisable by their asymmetrical shapes, if you draw a line down the centre of your spot, the two parts of it will not be similar. In contrast, a healthy mole (nevus) will be round or oval and symmetrical.

B. Border

Generally, melanoma has irregular edges, whereas a normal brown spot often has smoother edges.

C. Color

A benign mole is most often brown, while the colours of a melanoma are shades of brown, dark beige or black. Depending on the growth, you may see other colours such as white, blue or red.

Exception: amelanotic melanomas are not pigmented and are quite rare. They are more difficult to detect than a classical melanoma. We can recognise it by its red or pinkish colours which can sometimes change to light brown pigments.

D. Diameter

The diameter of a spot should be monitored. If the lesion grows to 6 millimetres in diameter or more, this may be an early warning sign of a melanoma.

E. Evolution 

BEFORE

AFTER

 

 

It is important to keep an eye on the evolution of the spot over time, according to the different criteria mentioned above as well as the elevation of the lesion. Bleeding, itching or scabbing can be warning signs of melanoma.

We advise you to take photographs of your skin often enough, especially if you have spotted an abnormality or an area with a large number of moles, so that you can detect any changes. 

 


Not all melanomas are alike, so the photos in this article are for reference only. If you notice an irregular spot that matches the ABCDE signs, we advise you to consult a specialist as soon as possible. The dermatologist, with the help of a dermatoscope, will provide you with a more precise diagnosis and will treat if necessary. 

 

Sources:

https://www.docteurcyrilroux.com/dermatologie-medicale/melanome.html

https://www.skincancer.org/international/labcde-du-melanome/#warning

https://www.has-sante.fr/upload/docs/application/pdf/gmed._melanome_231106.pdf https://2019.dermato-info.fr/article/L_auto-examen-de-la-peau_m%C3%A9thode-ABCDE https://www.vaincrelecancer-nrb.org/nos-actualites/focus/cancer-dey----la-peau-on-se-protege.html#:~:text=En%20 chiffres%20%3A%20pr%C3%A8s%20de%2080.000,cancers%20cutan%C3%A9s%20 diagnostiqué%C3%A9s%20en%20France.

June 08, 2022 — nihal moudjahed

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